They “Blended” an entire continent

Blended wouldn’t really be worth mentioning if it weren’t extremely racist.

The film introduces single father Jim Friedman (Adam Sandler) and single mother Lauren Reynolds (Drew Barrymore) on a biblically awful blind date, then promptly sticks him and his three girls and her and her two boys in the same room of a romantic resort for mixed families in Africa. Where in Africa? I don’t know, just Africa. Mildly romantic shenanigans ensue.

Blended’s biggest surprise is how funny it really is. Several of its skits rise above the level of droll and into the territory of mild amusement. It’s also heartwarming to see simple, good parenting be a movie’s main act of heroism.

There’s also a strange amount of adult content in the movie. It was released against the hotly anticipated X-Men: Days of Future Past on the assumption that it would draw more family audiences, but X-Men is actually much more family- and child-friendly than Blended is.

Its good bits and bad bits, however, are overshadowed by its cultural appropriation of an entire continent.

AFRICASee the map on the left? That’s the continent — not hotel resort, not city, not country, continent — Africa. See all those squiggly lines in the middle? Those separate it out into more than 50 countries, each of which has its own culture and customs, some of which predate recorded history. But this film has “blended” them all into this one resort, only mentioning Uganda by name.

Terry Crews, a Michigan native who enjoyed a long career in American football, is the representative of this homogenized African race, and that’s pretty accurate. The fictionalized continent/resort thing is clearly a hodge-podge of identifiably African features that was 100 percent American the whole time, so it makes sense that the actor with the most lines fits the same description. It’s like the movie’s very setting came in blackface.

Joshua Knopp is a formerly professional film critic, licensed massage therapist, journalism and film student at the University of North Texas and a senior staff writer for the NT Daily. So, Mystique has two kids in the comics, but apparently no nipples. Seems like a problem.  For questions, rebuttals and further guidance about cinema, you can reach him at reelentropy@gmail.com. At this point, I’d like to remind you that you shouldn’t actually go to movies and form your own opinions. That’s what I’m here for.

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