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“Blended” 2stars

Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, who first clicked in "The Wedding Singer" and then went on "50 First Dates," head for a South African resort in "Blended."

They play Lauren, a divorced mother of sons 13 and 9 years old, and Jim, a widowed father of three girls ages 4 to 15.

They have the opposite of a meet-cute. Their first date, at a Hooter's restaurant, is disastrous as he drinks her beer, trains his eyes on the TV (or waitresses) instead of his companion and fakes an emergency to escape -- before she can do the same.

Serendipity or, perhaps, fate keeps bringing them together until they unwittingly find themselves splitting a spring break trip to an African safari resort. Turns out they're vacationing during a special Blended Family Week, and they have to share a spacious suite along with dinners and activities such as ostrich riding, parasailing and looking for elephants, rhinos and giraffes in the wild.

"Blended" capitalizes on the obvious chemistry of its stars, and its heart is in the right place, but the humor is kind of crude, and the film hits some roadblocks, prolonging its runtime to a bloated 117 minutes.

Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language. Extras include "Adam and Drew: Back Together Again," an on-location short on Georgia and deleted scenes.

-- Post-Gazette

“The Double”  3stars

"The Double" resists categorization as a darkly funny film adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky's 1846 novella. The words "funny" and "Dostoyevsky" are rarely linked, but this is as close to comedy as Fyodor gets and -- in the eccentric hands of British director Richard Ayoade -- comes as close to screen realization as it's ever going to get.

Agonizingly shy Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) is a lowly clerk in a nameless government agency. Submissive and treated like dirt by his boss and even his mother, he is also ignored by lovely Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), the copy-room girl of his dreams.

Enter new co-worker James Simon, who is Simon James' exact double in appearance but polar opposite in personality -- confident, charismatic and cocksure with the ladies. James has all the charm Simon lacks and is instantly adored by his colleagues, who never notice the uncanny resemblance between the two. At first they're fast friends.

But as James gradually usurps Simon's life, they'll become mortal enemies.

"The Double" may well leave you confused as well as amused. But its odd combination of humor and melancholy is seductive.

Rated R for obscenity and suggestive dialogue. Extras include a making-of featurette.

-- Post-Gazette

“Belle” 3stars

Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars as Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate daughter of a white Royal Navy admiral and a black Caribbean slave.

In late 18th-century England, she is too high in rank to eat with the servants and yet too low to dine with her aristocratic family.

As a motherless child, Dido is brought to the grand country estate of her great uncle, Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson), and his refined wife (Emily Watson), who are already caring for another young relative, Elizabeth.

The girls are as close as sisters as they mature and approach the time of meeting potential mates and weighing marriage offers. Race is a factor but so, too, is the sweetener or absence of a generous inheritance or dowry.

But more wide-reaching and imperative questions hang over the household and British empire. The great uncle whom Dido calls Papa also happens to be the Lord Chief Justice of England and will decide a landmark case involving the ship Zong and its human "cargo" jettisoned to cruel, watery deaths.

"Belle," directed by London-born Amma Asante, is about a young woman struggling to find herself, her voice and her place in the world. In addressing class, race, privilege and freedom, "Belle" reminds us of the power of love and personal and social awakenings, and the sinewy strength of the belief, "Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall."

Rated PG for thematic elements, some language and brief smoking images. Extras include a making-of short and four other featurettes including a profile of Ms. Mbatha-Raw.

-- Post-Gazette

ALSO THIS WEEK: 

 

• "Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return": Lea Michele and Megan Hilty star in a feature film musical based on characters from "The Wizard of Oz."

• "The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season": A small group continues to battle for survival in a world full of zombies.

• "The Normal Heart": Emmy-winning cable film based on the play about the early battles with AIDs.

• "Welcome Back, Kotter: The Complete Series": Box set contains all 95 episodes from the series.

• "Sons of Anarchy: Season 6": Jax looks to the future of the club, his family with Clay and Tara behind bars.

• "Murder in Suburbia Complete Collection": Two detectives patrol an upscale suburb where perfect-looking lives reveal all kinds of depravity.

• "Jersey Shore Massacre": Typical weekend down the shore takes a bizarre turn as six girls and five guys become the targets of a killer.

• "Blandings, Series 2": Based on P.G. Wodehouse's Blandings Castle stories.

• "Lucky in Love": Romance starring Jessica Szohr.

• "Medieval Lives": Glimpse into the experiences of birth, marriage and death in the Middle Ages.

• "Jackpot": Based on a short story by Jo Nesbo.

• "Criminal Minds: Season 9": CBS series that delves into the twisted thoughts of terrifying offenders.

• "My Gal Sunday": Rachel Blanchard and Cameron Mathison play husband-and-wife private eye team.

 "Gene Autry Movie Collection 7": Features four fully restored films from Gene Autry's personal archives.

• "The Twilight Zone: The Complete '80s Series": Anthology series that aired from 1985-89.

• "The Forbidden Girl": Young man must resist the seductive lure of an ancient witch.

• "Triad": Three friends face harsh realities of being a member of the Triads.

• "Western Double Feature": Includes "The Hills Run Red" (1967) and "Apache" (1954).

• "Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas": Obscure man becomes a hero of the people.

• "Elementary -- The Second Season": Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu play a modern Holmes and Watson.

• "Quicksand": Mickey Rooney plays a young man who turns to crime.

• "Aftermath": Horror of a nuclear apocalypse is a reality for nine people.

• "Masterpiece: Breathless": Follows the exploits of doctors, nurses, and spouses connected with a busy obstetrics ward.

• "The Double": Lookalike changes a man's life.

• "Classic in the Jurassic": Special from the series "Dinosaur Train."

• "Deadbeat": Supernatural comedy series starring Tyler Labine.

• "75 Years of WWII": History series examines the deadliest conflict in human history.

• "The Stream": Tragedy sends five boys on an adventure of a lifetime.

• "Discovery Channel's Earth: The Sequel": Based on the New York Times best-selling book.

• "The Possession of Michael King": Documentarian looks for proof of the supernatural.

-- Rick Bentley, The Fresno Bee

 

 


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