By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Sixteen years after they co-starred in the romantic comedy “The Wedding Singer” and a decade after they reunited in tropical-themed “50 First Dates,” Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore are back together bringing on the funny again in “Blended.”
Sandler, of course, started his career as a stand up comedian and then landed a gig on “Saturday Night Live,” as a writer in 1990. The following year he joined the cast on the legendary sketch comedy show creating such memorable characters as Opera Man, Cajun Man and Canteen Boy.
The Brooklyn-born funnyman then began a hot streak of goofy and highly profitable comedies including “Billy Madison,” “Happy Gilmore,” “The Water Boy” and “Big Daddy.” While critics deemed those films sophomoric, those offbeat comedies were huge box office hits making Sandler a very very rich man. His attempts at more serious fare such as “Punch Drunk Love” and “Reign Over Me” were greeted with lukewarm reaction from audiences and critics alike. It seems people are more responsive to Sandler being funny.
With “The Wedding Singer,” Sandler demonstrated that he could be a romantic leading man opposite comedy veteran Barrymore while maintaining his crazy antics. Six years later, the duo reteamed in “50 First Dates,” in which he plays a veterinarian Lothario who becomes smitten with an amnesiac.
It seemed inevitable that the two would pair up again, though no one could have imagined it would take another 10 years.
In “Blended,” Sandler plays a widowed father who goes on a blind date with a divorced mom, which turns out to be a disaster. Through a complicated twist, the single parents end up at the same South African resort with their respective kids—he’s got three girls; she’s got two boys— having to share the same luxurious suite. Eventually, their icy feelings towards each other start to melt as they get to know each other and each other’s kids better.
The 47-year-old comedian, who is happily married to actress Jackie Sandler and the father of two daughters, recently spoke about working again with Barrymore, being a dad in real life and the secret of a successful onscreen relationship.
Q: How has your chemistry changed in the 16 years that you’ve done three films together?
Sandler: It’s only gotten hornier. (He laughs.) I love Drew. I’ve known her a long time. In all three movies, we have the pleasure of falling in love. The first two I faked it. But this one I really did. (He laughs.)
Q: Going back to “The Wedding Singer,” “50 First Dates” and now this, how has your relationship progressed? Can we look forward to you two starring in a remake of “On Golden Pond” in the distant future?
Sandler: Yeah, that would be great, an “On Golden Pond” kind of movie but maybe with a few more jokes in it. Yes, we both have new things going on in our lives since “The Wedding Singer” to “50 First Dates” to now. We both have families. We’ve always stayed in touch and we’ve always been good friends and check in on each other as much as possible. No matter what’s going on, I’m always pulling for Drew, and I feel the same about her whenever I’m doing something. I know she’s pulling for me. We just have a nice friendship.
Q: What made you decided to collaborate again?
Sandler: (Producer) Mike Karz found this script that was good for us, and I said, “You got something for (Kevin) Nealon in there?” He said “yes,” so we all signed up.
Q: So you really did say, “Do you have something for Kevin?”
Sandler: (laughing) No. We always write in something for Nealon to make him put on something.
Q: What did you discover as a parent while filming this movie?
Sandler: Can I say something great that happened from having kids and this movie when we were casting it? My kids love Bella (Thorne, who plays his oldest daughter in the movie). I would have no idea who she was, by the way, if I didn’t have my two children. We watch the Disney Channel a lot and so I saw Bella on (“Shake It Up”). And I was like, “Who is that kid? She’s good. She’s funny.” Then, when we were casting this movie, I remember saying, “Hey, what’s that kid’s name from ‘Shake It Up?’” And my kids were, “Bella Thorne! Bella Thorne!” I said, “Yeah, yeah. We’ve got to get her.” I used Bella to get closer with my kids. (He laughs.) Then I taught Drew to do the same in the future.
Q: What was it like having Bella Thorne as a daughter in this movie?
Sandler: I’ve got pictures of my kids and family all over my house, and Bella Thorne is the only one who made it (on the wall) outside of the family. I have a picture of Bella Thorne and my two kids hugging.
Q: How did you end up casting stand up comedian Jessica Lowe as Kevin Nealon’s sexy trophy wife in this?
Sandler: She auditioned and then I looked up some of her stuff online like her bit called drunk (yoga). That was so fun. Ol’ Jessica is great.
Q: Did your director, Frank Coraci, ever have control over you and all the other comedians in this?
Sandler: (He) had control. Constantly.
Q: Did you get to improvise a lot?
Sandler: We improvised a lot of great jokes. Everyone did. Kevin and Jessica at the end of the movie as (overly romantic couple) Eddy and Ginger, when they connect (for real at the end), ol’ Drew cries every time.
Q: The characters are committed to the idea that 99 percent of what you do is for the kids. How have you dealt with that in your life? How did you get used to that notion?
Sandler: Yeah, like, last night me and my family did Mother’s Day. We had a great time with the family. We were with them all day long. The kids were falling asleep and then my wife say, “Maybe when they fall asleep, we can go see a movie.” But they weren’t falling asleep, so then I said, “I think we have about 20 more minutes for them to fall asleep or we’re not going to be able to do this.” And the next thing I know, my wife’s sleeping. One kid’s sleeping with my life and I’m up with the other one, and I thought, “Yeah, we’re not going to the movies.” Almost got to do it. The difference when you have kids, and someone wants to meet with you after 9:30 p.m., it is pathetic. It’s like a giant sacrifice. “Do I do this? Do I stay out to 10:30 p.m., and be angry all day tomorrow?”
Q: What’s it like when you go to your kids’ school? Are you the coolest dad there?
Sandler: My kids go to the same school as Kevin Nealon’s kids, so yes I am the coolest. (He laughs.) The best thing about our school is that you can go to lunch with your kids. You just show up with an In-N-Out burger and then your kid loves you more. And then that night when they get mad at you, you can say, “Well, remember when I brought you that In-N-Out burger today?”
Q: What’s the toughest part of parenting that you had to learn?
Sandler: Just the hours are tough. Also, every moment that your kid’s upset will rattle you so much. When your kid’s upset, you’re rocked until they’re not upset. Or even when they’re not upset, you worry, “I hope that doesn’t happen down the line.” You’re just always nervous about not wanting your kid to be unhappy. Now I know why my folks were all about “Be nice to your sister!” and “Make sure everybody in the family is OK.” They were trying to protect us and let us know that the world is going to throw stuff at you that can hurt you so make sure your family has your back. So I get that a little more now.
Q: How was it filming in South Africa?
Sandler: Unbelievable. Great crews and great people. I actually rode the ostrich.
Q: Was one of your daughters in the movie?
Sandler: They’re both in it. One’s at the baseball game doing the announcements, and the other is in a scene where they’re in the daycare center at the resort.