Jersey Snore

BY Gina Tumlos

"Jersey Boys," starring Vincent Piazza, Erich Bergen, John Lloyd Young, and Michael Lomenda.

“Jersey Boys,” starring Vincent Piazza, Erich Bergen, John Lloyd Young, and Michael Lomenda.


Jersey Boys was supposed to be directed by Iron Man’s Jon Favreau who no doubt would have made the Broadway adaptation much more entertaining than this generic rags-to-riches tale of a 1950s pop group which struggled with fame and fortune and the pitfalls that came along with it. Yawn. Clint Eastwood’s greatest liability in this project is the clichéd backdrop of the story, a hurdle which he could have overcome with his years of experience behind the camera, but unfortunately, his straight-forward style of storytelling was not a good match for the material.

Vincent Piazza in "Jersey Boys"

Vincent Piazza in “Jersey Boys”

The film opens with Vincent Piazza as Tommy DeVito, a small-time hustler and driver to mob boss Gyp DeCarlo (the always affable Christopher Walken) as he tells the camera that the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons would not have been possible without him. Piazza effortlessly slips into the skin of a 1950s mini mobster as this is familiar territory; he played Lucky Luciano in HBO’s gangster series Broadway Empire.  Despite being the only cast member among the Four Seasons who was not transplanted from the original production, Piazza fits in easily with the rest of the gang and actually ends up becoming the most intriguing character.  John Lloyd Young, who plays Frankie Valli, takes a little more time warm up onscreen, but it is undeniable that his otherworldly, high-pitched, nasal-y voice is what carried Jersey Boys the musical and the only thing that kept Jersey Boys the movie afloat. The Four Seasons is rounded off by Michael Lomenda as the bassist Nick Massi and Erich Bergen as the triple threat Bob Gaudio, who not only is the group’s keyboardist and back-up vocalist, but is also the composer of the hits “Sherry,” “Walk Like A Man,” and “Can’t Keep My Eyes Off You.”

Erich Bergen in "Jersey Boys"

Erich Bergen in “Jersey Boys”

The first forty minutes of the movie traces the early rise of Vallie who came from a nice middle-class family in New Jersey but ran around with the likes of DeVito and Massi who were frequently in trouble with the law. In spite of the early backing DeCarlo, it  is only when Gaudio enters the picture that the group really gets its act together to make the infectious, bubbly music the Four Seasons are cherished and remembered for.

The second half of the film is packed with great music, provided by the actors in live takes, thus giving the numbers an electric feel and injecting the snap and energy the movie desperately needed. The Four Seasons quickly becomes a household name with the aid of producer Bob Crewe (Mike Doyle), but cracks begin to show as DeVito gets in over his head with his uncontrollable spending and continuous dealings with the loan shark Norm Waxman (Donnie Kehr). Predictably, this triggers the downfall of the Four Seasons with Massi quitting and Vallie going off on his own.

Michael Lomenda in "Jersey Boys"

Michael Lomenda in “Jersey Boys”

Had the long, uninterrupted dialogues been balanced with steady musical numbers, then maybe Jersey Boys y Boycould have had a chance. Unfortunately, the music stops after the ninety –minute mark and the film drags on without giving the audience any real emotional anchor. Though Jersey Boys is presented from the points-of-view of the members of The Four Seasons, the film falls short of becoming personal and engaging. Vallie is painted off as an altruistic, uncomplicated character and there’s no real exposition on how or why he kept making music. A montage of Vallie looking miserable while singing in small clubs shows how much he struggled during the bleak years, but the movie fails altogether to get into the mind and heart of the artist.

The other problem the movie had was its framing of Vallie’s relationship with his family. He marries a beautiful, vibrant woman (Renee Marino) who suddenly becomes a bitter drunk because of Vallie’s alleged affairs and his continued absence. Moreover, out-of-nowhere, his relationship with his daughter becomes the focal point of the movie. What was supposed to be a tragic moment in the film instead becomes a dull placeholder for the next musical number.

Still from Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys

Overall, Jersey Boys would perhaps be better appreciated on stage than on screen. Though Eastwood’s direction is solid, the production design immaculate, the editing seamless, and the music remarkable, the movie amounts to nothing more than a conventional retelling of a story we’ve seen a hundred times. Again, yawn.

‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ review

BY Warren and Kat Maneja

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Directed by Matt Reeves, distributed by 20th Century Fox.

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” directed by Matt Reeves and distributed by 20th Century Fox.

Set 10 years after the Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the evolved apes have grown in number as the simian flu decimates earth’s human population. In the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the apes come into contact with a pocket of human survivors and have an uneasy truce between them. But events spiral out of control as man and ape are pitted against each other for survival and there’s only room for one at the top of the food chain…

Spoiler alert!

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After going through the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I was admittedly left with mixed feelings. I mean, as a human being a part of me was rooting for the human survivors to eventually come out on top due to the convincing performances of Malcolm (Jason Clarke), the human colony representative who desperately wanted to balance the truce between man and ape, and Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), leader of the colony who desperately wanted to scavenge whatever is left that resembles life before the simian flu. (I’m liberally using the word desperately here because, well, that’s how the movie portrayed the human survivors: desperate.) And who wouldn’t be?! Mankind’s population has been decimated, society as we know it has crumbled, and at your door is a massive number of pissed-off, organized, thinking simians ready to wage war against you (Did I mention they also have guns?).

Desperate.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

A new generation of apes rule the earth in the “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

On the other hand, one can easily relate to Caesar and the rest of his tribe who all just wanted to be left alone in peace until the complications with the human colony arose. Caesar (Andy Serkis) showed the conflicting emotions of being human as he was torn between protecting his family from the consequences of war against the human colony and trying to help the latter at surviving. The CGI special effects as well as puppeteering were spot-on (The baby ape was sooooo adorable!) and the brooding facial reactions of Caesar coupled with the well-orchestrated soundtrack of the film added to the emotion needed by the viewer to be left with nothing else but to feel for Caesar (Though honestly, I missed the cunning and tactical shrewdness that Caesar showed in the previous film.).

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Jason Clarke as Malcolm and Andy Serkis (in his motion-capture outfit) as the chimpanzee Caesar (pre-CGI) in the latest “Planet of the Apes” sequel.

Overall, dealing with the timeless questions of equality, intelligence and warfare, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is not just a source of thrilling entertainment inside the theater–you’d also likely talk about it even after the movie.

You can also watch these short films which document what happens during the 10 years between  “Rise” and “Dawn”:

Spread of Simian Flu


Struggling to Survive

Story of the Gun

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, distributed by 20th Century Fox, opens in Philippine cinemas July 9, 2014. (In 2D, 3D, and 4DX format)

Who will ultimately sit on the Iron Throne Part 1: Dany? Stannis?

BY Jen T.  Tuazon and Joanna Mendoza

The Iron Throne as envisioned by HBO. George R. R. Martin has lauded HBO's version of the Iron Throne but... The HBO throne has become iconic. And well it might. It’s a terrific design, and it has served the show very well. (…) And yet, and yet… it’s still not right. It’s not the Iron Throne I see when I’m working on THE WINDS OF WINTER. It’s not the Iron Throne I want my readers to see.

The Iron Throne as envisioned by HBO. George R. R. Martin has lauded HBO’s version of the Iron Throne but… The HBO throne has become iconic. And well it might. It’s a terrific design, and it has served the show very well. (…) And yet, and yet… it’s still not right. It’s not the Iron Throne I see when I’m working on THE WINDS OF WINTER. It’s not the Iron Throne I want my readers to see.

The second episode of the final season of True Blood is airing in a few hours, but we still can’t get on board. It just can’t fill that Game of Thrones void. It. Just. Can’t.

So instead of spending two hours on the new episodes of True Blood so far, we decided to spend days re-reading the Song of Ice and Fire novels. And we got to thinking: Who will eventually sit the Iron Throne?

We discuss our guesses and favorites below. But the fun of having a pop culture club of any kind is that it’s always the more the merrier! So… who do you think will be the ultimate Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms? Or will there still be Seven Kingdoms after all this?

JOANNA:
Jen, I still don’t get how you were able to finish Feast for Crows. Zero Tyrion chapters?! I pity those who really followed the books from way back, from when they were first released. The first three had two-year gaps between them. Feast, however, came five years after Storm. Can you imagine waiting five years to find out what happens to Tyrion after that ending? Only to find out that there’s no Tyrion chapter in Feast?! And as if that wasn’t cruel enough, the fifth book wasn’t released until six years after! People had to wait almost a decade to find out what happens next, and I don’t think they’re even happy with what they’ve read so far. From what I heard, a lot of fans didn’t like Feast and Dance as much as they liked the first three.

Still, I hate watching blind because people love spoiling GOT. And it’s driving me insane that some of those spoilers haven’t even read the books. I hate being spoiled by someone whose GOT knowledge is only Wikipedia-based. I refuse to let that happen! But before I force myself to try to read Feast again (and go beyond the third chapter this time), I’d like to discuss with you who you think is going to win the Iron Throne in the end. Do you think there will still be an Iron Throne then? Will the Seven Kingdoms still be united in name? Or will there be officially different kings in the North, South, etc.?

The Iron Throne as envisioned by George R. R. Martin, and illustrated by French artist Marc Simonetti HUGE, hulking, black and twisted, with the steep iron stairs in front, the high seat from which the king looks DOWN on everyone in the court… my throne is a hunched beast looming over the throne room, ugly and assymetric…”

The Iron Throne as envisioned by George R. R. Martin: “HUGE, hulking, black and twisted, with the steep iron stairs in front, the high seat from which the king looks DOWN on everyone in the court… my throne is a hunched beast looming over the throne room, ugly and assymetric…” (Illustration by French artist Marc Simonetti, as shared by Martin on his blog)

JEN:
The fourth book was… interesting. No chapters by Jon Snow, Dany, or Tyrion–it sure was a challenge to finish! Plus, they introduced chapters by Cersei which I really hated. But it’s a testament to how villainy she is that even with her own POV, you’d still find her despicable!

I hate spoilers online, too, which is why I insisted on reading the books first before watching the TV series, but I think what’s great about the show is that there are still things that surprise even those who’ve read the books. So many deviations! The plot line of Sansa (one of my least favorite characters! I wouldn’t shed a tear if she dies) on the show was particularly curious.

Who do I think will sit on the Iron Throne? I think it’s Dany. I really think it’s her birthright, that by their laws she’s the rightful heir. Sure Robert and Ned won the war, but that should have only unseated the Mad King, not put the victor there, right? But who I WANT to sit on the Iron Throne is another matter. I want it to be any of the three in this order: Tyrion, Stannis, and Jon Snow!

We think Dany (Emilia Clarke) is going to be the ultimate victor.

We think Dany (Emilia Clarke) is going to be the ultimate victor.

JOANNA:
Yeah. I think it was a big problem they had back then. That after winning the war, they didn’t know who was going to rule. Ned never wanted to, but I think because they didn’t want a Lannister sitting the throne, Robert assumed power.

I agree with you about Dany, too. I think she has a pretty good shot at being the ultimate victor, hopefully with a noble Stark by her side, just like Ned was for Robert (Arya perhaps?). I think Dany’s being set up as the ultimate ruler. All those Meereen scenes where she’s just standing there passing judgment may be boring as hell, but of all the characters, she’s the only one we’re seeing who’s actually learning how to be a great leader.

I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of someone else who will most likely win the Iron Throne in the end, but I couldn’t come up with anyone else! Not that she’s the one I want to win…

Who I really want to win is Stannis. Given that baseborn children have no rights in Westeros, Stannis is officially next in line to the throne. Plus, he’s a badass hero (at least Book Stannis is) and if it weren’t for him, Jon Snow would probably be no more.

But we both want Stannis (Stephen Dillane)  to win it all!

But we both want Stannis (Stephen Dillane) to win it all!

JEN:
I agree, Stannis has the most legitimate claim to the Iron Throne—under the premise that Robert was the rightful King, that is. But Lady Melissandre (another character I so dislike!) is such a thorn. So for me it’s sort of a like-the-man-but-scared-of-the-potential-First-Lady situation.

But Stannis arriving at the Wall, or Beyond the Wall, was hands down one of the best scenes in the entire TV series. It was so picturesque and the dramatic effect definitely surpassed its counterpart in the book.

Going back to Dany, I think she has shown that her heart is in the right place, that she is a good person with a pure heart. She is like the perfect anti-Cersei. (As an aside, can we talk about the best-looking GOT characters in the future? Because the actor playing Daario Naharis [Michiel Huisman] is such a fox! So much so that even though I’ve rooted for Dany and Jorah Mormont from the beginning, now I’m not so sure! Haha!)

Still on the Targaryens, one “thorn” on Dany could be her dragons. At first I couldn’t wait for them to grow because I thought they were Dany’s only hope of conquering the Seven Kingdoms. But now with her army of [supposedly] no-longer slaves, it seems she won’t even need a single dragon. And that scene showing the skeleton of the kid one of her dragons had killed put her dragons in a “villain” light for me and made me wonder if Dany’s having them could hurt instead of help her claim to the Throne.

What do you think about Dany’s chances? What about Stannis? Or perhaps you have other names for consideration? Next time, we’ll discuss Jon Snow and Tyrion!

’22 Jump Street': Something Coooool!!!

BY Jo Ann Madarang

Jonah Hill;Channing Tatum

After making their way through high school for the second time to bust a drug ring, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) go undercover (again) at a local college to bust another drug ring. Piece of cake? Of course not.

Sequels, like movie adaptation of books, are complicated. In addition to having to be good, these movies have to be better than (or at least, as good as) the first movie or the book from which it was adapted from. 22 Jump Street meets this challenge head on using three effective ways:

1. By directly addressing the fact that this is a sequel, through well-timed jokes and jibes delivered by the lead characters Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) all throughout the movie. It helped that Hill and Tatum have good chemistry and timing.

2. By using what made 21 Jump Street work…and adding to that. The most glaring improvement in 22 Jump Street is that it has very good editing, making the transition between scenes almost flawless. Some of the jokes in the movie were funny because of the crisp editing, similar to the editing in How I Met Your Mother. I can’t remember Channing Tatum being funny in 21 Jump Street but he is hilarious in 22 Jump Street.

3. By being its own movie. No one can deny that 21 Jump Street was good but the people behind 22 Jump Street knows that it cannot ride on 21‘s coattails forever.Thus, it had to introduce something to the Schmidt and Jenko dynamic that wasn’t present in 21. And it did. 22 explored the necessity that Schmidt and Jenko mature as individuals first before their friendship can.

The Verdict: If you’re looking for a movie that will make you laugh, 22 Jump Street will not disappoint.

22 Jump Street, distributed by Columbia Pictures, is now showing in Philippine cinemas.

Our favorite sports movies

BY The Movie Clubbers

With the recently concluded NBA Finals and the ongoing World Cup series, a lot of people have sports on the brain–giving us the perfect excuse to make a list of our favorite sports movies. See how they compare with yours!

ELIJAH’S FAVORITES

5. The Mighty Ducks (1992)

"The Mighty Ducks " (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures/Buena Vista Pictures)

“The Mighty Ducks ” (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures/Buena Vista Pictures)

Probably because this was the first sports movie I saw with actors the same age as I am.

Watch a clip:

4. Happy Gilmore (1996) & The Waterboy (1998)

"Happy Gilmore" (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)

“Happy Gilmore” (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)

"The Waterboy" (Photo courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures)

“The Waterboy” (Photo courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures)

Adam Sandler was really funny during his heyday.

Watch the trailers:

3. Space Jam (1996)

"Space Jam" (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.)

“Space Jam” (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.)

Looney Tunes + MJ + Bill Murray. What’s not to love?

Watch the trailer:

2. Rocky III (1982)

"Rocky III" (Photo courtesy of MGM/UA/UIP)

“Rocky III” (Photo courtesy of MGM/UA/UIP)

Clubber Lang and Hulk Hogan.

Watch the trailer:

1. Rocky IV (1985)

"Rocky IV" (Photo courtesy of MGM/UA)

“Rocky IV” (Photo courtesy of MGM/UA)

DRAGOOOOOOO!!! And the Happy Birthday Paulie robot is kind of awesome.

Watch the trailer:

JOANNA’S FAVORITES

5. D3: The Mighty Ducks (1996)

"D3: The Mighty Ducks " (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures/Buena Vista Pictures)

“D3: The Mighty Ducks ” (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures/Buena Vista Pictures)

Starts with the W! This one’s always a winner, never work.

Watch a clip:

4. Bring It On (2000)

"Bring it On" (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)

“Bring it On” (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)

That crappy ending (the Toros’ routine was leagues better!) notwithstanding, this movie has sassy lines, sexy moves, and Kirsten Dunst circa early ’00s. What more can you ask for?

Watch the trailer:

3. She’s the Man (2006)

"She's the Man" (Photo courtesy of DreamWorks)

“She’s the Man” (Photo courtesy of DreamWorks)

Unadulterated laughter all around.

Watch the trailer:

2. Blades of Glory (2007)

"Blades of Glory" (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

“Blades of Glory” (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

At times borderline uncomfortable, but always, always hilarious.

Watch the trailer:

1. Rocky II (1979)

"Rocky II" (Photo courtesy of United Artists)

“Rocky II” (Photo courtesy of United Artists)

What a true champion feels like.

Watch the trailer:

JEN’S FAVORITES

5. Angels in the Outfield (1994)

Angels in the Outfield (Courtesy of

“Angels in the Outfield” (Photo courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures)

A thirteen year-old Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dr. Brown from Back to the Future as an angel, and minutes or so screen time of a young (and yes, shirtless) Matthew McConaughey–it’s the perfect guilty pleasure sports movie!

Watch the trailer:

4. Invictus (2009)

"Invictus" (Photo courtesy of

“Invictus” (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

In addition to being historically and socially significant, Invictus is as thrilling as it is uplifting.

Watch the trailer:

3. He Got Game (1998)

He Got Game (Courtesy of

“He Got Game” (Photo courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures)

The movie that made me fall in love with Ray Allen (Jesus Shuttlesworth!). It’s got basketball, drama, Denzel Washington and cameos from many basketball greats, including Michael Jordan!

Watch the trailer:

2. Remember the Titans (2000)

Remember the Titans (Courtesy of

“Remember the Titans” (Photo courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures)

Like a true sports movie classic, this movie makes you cheer, jeer, and cross your fingers for a win every single time.  (Plus: a young Ryan Gosling!)

Watch the trailer:

1. Jerry Maguire (1996)

Jerry Maguire (Courtesy of

“Jerry Maguire” (Photo courtesy of Tristar Pictures)

Tom Cruise in his prime.  Jonathan Lipnicki at his cutest. Cuba Gooding Jr.’s heart on his sleeve. Bruce Springsteen’s haunting “Secret Garden.” And Renee Zellweger making us believe that Tom Cruise can fall for the-girl-next-door. Oh, and the sports, too.  Jerry Maguire will make you cry, cheer, and cry again.

Watch the trailer:

‘How To Train Your Dragon 2′ review

BY Elijah Mendoza

The gang's all back in "How to Train Your Dragon 2." (Photo courtesy of DreamWorks Animation)

The gang’s all back in “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” (Photo courtesy of DreamWorks Animation)

How to Train Your Dragon was perhaps the first DreamWorks animated movie which, for lack of a better comparison, actually had heart akin to those of Pixar films.

That being said, How To Train Your Dragon 2 had some pretty big shoes to fill. Does it have the fire and fervor to top the original?

HTTYD2 (yes, the initials are a mouthful) follows the continuing adventures of Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his Night Fury dragon, Toothless.

Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless in "How to Train Your Dragon 2" (Photo courtesy of DreamWorks Animation)

One of our favorite cinematic duos: Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless in “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ (Photo courtesy of DreamWorks Animation)

It’s set in a post Humans vs. Dragons world wherein the two species have learned to coexist and cooperate. Hiccup’s Viking comrades now take the fire-breathers as pets, and in return the dragons refrain from repeatedly burning down the Vikings’ island-village into oblivion.

But as with all newfound freedom—in this case, being able to reach distant lands with the help of (and without threat from) the winged creatures—it lays new dangers.

"How to Train Your Dragon 2" (Photo courtesy of DreamWorks Animation)

Partying with more dragons? Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ (Photo courtesy of DreamWorks Animation)

In one of Hiccup’s island hops on his trusty Night Fury, he discovers that his world is a lot bigger than he imagined, in more ways than one.

He crosses paths with his long-lost mother Valka (Cate Blanchett) who teaches him a thing or two more about taming dragons.

He also meets an unforgiving Viking by the name of Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) who has the same ability to control dragons, albeit with a completely opposite demeanor.

HTTYD2 retains the spirit of the original. Baruchel’s pubescent voice still works well with his slightly older look, and doesn’t really merit any harsh criticism.

It does, however, seem weird that his timbre remains the same despite having grown up significantly.

Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler), Valka (Cate Blanchett), and Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) in "How to Train Your Dragon 2" (Photo courtesy of DreamWorks Animation)

Reunited and it feels so good: Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler), Valka (Cate Blanchett), and Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) in “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ (Photo courtesy of DreamWorks Animation)

The return of his mother Valka was explained (justified?) with a dragon-centric back-story. Though how youthful she looks could be disputed–not only because she was living alone with dragons for the past 20 years, but because in the first movie, Stoick suggested that she might have been a bigger woman.

Stoick and Hiccup’s rather large matching helmets were said to have been made from Valka’s breast plates.

The big bad: Drago Bludvist (Djimon Honsou) in "How to Train Your Dragon 2" (Photo courtesy of DreamWorks Animation)

The big bad: Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) in “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ (Photo courtesy of DreamWorks Animation)

In terms of visuals, the animators did a great job at showing the enormity of the Alpha dragons as compared to the more regular variants. But in terms of actually doing something groundbreaking, HTTYD2 falls more on the average end of the pool.

Another missed opportunity is that Hiccup could have solidified the difference between him and Drago more effectively.

The bottom line:

There have been quite a few non-Pixar animated films that have touched our hearts since 2010 (Illumination’s Despicable Me, anyone? How about Disney’s Frozen?), and Pixar itself has failed to do their originally unique Pixar thing since Toy Story 3.

And, with the exception of last year’s The Croods, DreamWorks has been on a slump, with three of its last four releases (Rise of the Guardians, Turbo, and Mr. Peabody & Sherman) resulting in million-dollar write-downs and even layoffs.

Fortunately for DreamWorks, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a worthy successor to the original. Like its predecessor, it’s got charm and wit, and it will break your heart–but in the best way possible.

How to Train Your Dragon 2, distributed by DreamWorks Animation, is currently showing in Philippine cinemas.

‘Blended': It’s actually not that bad

BY Jen T. Tuazon

Blended

Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler reunite in the new romantic comedy  “Blended.”

I don’t know if it’s the deluge of negative reviews that lowered my expectations of the new comedy Blended, but I actually found this latest rom-com from Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore enjoyable enough.

In Blended, directed by Frank Coraci and written by Ivan Menchell and Clare Sera, single parents and reluctant daters Jim Friedman (Sandler) and Lauren Reynolds (Barrymore) end up hating each other after an unsuccessful blind date, only to find themselves, with their respective children in tow, stuck in a safari trip in Africa. Chaos then ensues as the the two families try to get along.

Blended

Adam Sandler with Emma Fuhrmann, Bella Thorne and Alyvia Alyn Lind in “Blended.”

Granted, the movie can be faulted for a few awkwardly edited scenes, conspicuous product placements, and flat jokes at the expense of animals, but whatever bad there is in Blended does not make the movie bad beyond hope. (From the sea of negative reviews on Blended you’d think the  movie is unwatchable, which sincerely puzzles me.) Here are five reasons I didn’t find Blended all that too awful to watch:

1. It’s actually funny.

Blended

Terry Crews, as hotel lounge singer Nickens, provides many funny moments in “Blended.”

Adam Sandler has always made me laugh, so I’m probably not the most objective assessor of the level of funny in Blended. That disclaimer aside, I still have to say that the movie honestly did make me laugh. A lot. And there weren’t even that many slapstick jokes by Sandler standards. Maybe the trick is to not take the movie too seriously. (Works every time!)

2. The kids

Blended

Drew Barrymore with Kyle Red Silverstein and Braxton Beckham in “Blended.”

Expect some serious child labor in Blended as the kids do a lot of heavy lifting in the comedy department: from Frodo look-alike Braxton Beckham as Lauren’s eldest son Brendan to the unbelievably cute (and naughty) Alyvia Alyn Lind as Jim’s youngest daughter Lou, the movie’s child actors hold their own against seasoned comedians Sandler, Barrymore (well, she’s a funny actress anyway) Terry Crews, Kevin Nealon and Wendi McLendon-Covey. At times, the kids even steal the grown-up actors’ thunder! Special  mention goes to Disney star Bella Thorne as boyish Hillary “Larry” Friedman. The basketball scene with her and Sandler is particularly hilarious.

3. Terry Crews and Shaq

Former NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal in "Blended."

Former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal in “Blended.”

Terry Crews, funny in literally every scene he’s in, is simply comedy gold. While Shaq  is simply awesomesauce, like always.

4. Adorable Drew

Blended 07

After all these years, Barrymore’s sunny personality still makes it so hard to not like her on screen. Her laugh is still as infectious and her lisp still as adorable as we first heard it in E.T. And though she may seem ageless in Blended, she nevertheless fit the role of  mother Lauren like a glove.

5. Adam and Drew together again

Blended

As single parents Jim Friedman and Lauren Reynolds, Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore are all grown up in “Blended.”

While Blended may not be in the league of The Wedding Singer, nor  anywhere in the vicinity of 50 First Dates (one of the best rom-coms of all time!), there’s no denying there’s still chemistry between Sandler and Barrymore. Maybe not so much romantic chemistry as comedic chemistry, but chemistry nonetheless. They just seem so comfortable with each other, with the banter between them so easy and with Barrymore, unlike other leading ladies in Sandler’s movies, such an even match for the comedian. The pair may no longer convince as young star-crossed lovers, but they were every bit convincing as two adults looking for a second chance at love.

Blended

Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler show they still have chemistry in “Blended.”

Overall, if you’re looking for a judicious way to spend your money, catching Blended in theaters may not be the wisest choice. But if you have the extra money, the extra time, and the extra need for some good old laughs, then go watch Blended on the big screen and allow yourself to laugh unashamedly. Thankfully, in the darkness of the movie theater, no one will judge you for still finding Adam Sandler funny.

Blended, distributed by Warner Bros., opens in Philippine cinemas June 11, 2014.