Adam Sandler’s “Africa”

It's unfunny and borderline offensive. But Late night TV talk shows can't get enough of it.

Still from Adam Sandler's "Blended."

Just based on the trailer alone, it was safe to predict that “Blended,” the comedy starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore about two single parents who after a dismal first date, magically end up on vacation at the same African resort, would scrape the bottom of the barrel. Dylan Valley said as much in a post here last December. The trailer, “… features some tired tropes: smiling singing Africans, generic wildlife, and adventuring in the bush. While the characters exclaim ‘we’re going to Africa!’, the only place they end up going to is Sun City, famously boycotted in South Africa’s bad old days by United Artists Against Apartheid.”

Here, one more time, is the trailer:

The film came out two weeks ago. Most critics, who normally cut Sandler and Barrymore slack, didn’t hold back. Here’s two of the more prominent examples.

Richard Brody in The New Yorker called the film “grotesquely offensive” and “… packaged with such a repellent batch of stereotypes and prejudices.” Brody was talking about the racial and gender stereotypes. Brody also wrote of the other characters, especially Terry Crews, who plays the leader of a singing group which pops up to serenade Sandler and Barrymore’s characters. Crews’ “… eye-rolling and glad-handing, his lubriciously insinuating and exaggeratedly jiving, all seem to be taken straight from a minstrel show.”

BTW, Crews thinks he was “showing another side of Africa” with his acting in the film; see this interview with BlackTree TV:

Back to Brody. He blamed the filmmakers, director Frank Coraci and the screenwriters Ivan Menchell and Clare Sera. We were surprised Brody didn’t also call out the African (mainly South Africa) members of the cast and crew who agreed to work on this nonsense. Some of them are credited as “Tribal Villager,” “African storyteller” and “African barber.”

Separately, A.O. Scott of The New York Times wrote about the film’s “quasi-zoological depiction of Africans as servile, dancing, drum-playing simpletons.” 

You’d think Sandler would hide after all this. Of course not, he still has to promote the film. So, he went on television to promote the film and proceeded to tell unfunny jokes about “Africa.” Worse, his hosts David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel didn’t call him on it. But what do we expect. (Update: The links to the clips are dead now, so can’t share them.) Sandler talked to Kimmel about “room service in Africa.”

Even Jon Stewart played along. He got to interview Drew Barrymore and asked her whether she needed injections for dengue fever to go to “Africa.” He kept up the “going to Africa” line of questioning for much of what followed. Watch here.)

There’s a black hole of these videos on Youtube. Just Google “Adam Sandler” or “Drew Barrymore” “Blended” and “Interview” together. It’s all comedy apparently. And as we wrote a while back, the “Africa” joke is a standard among American comedians (there’s occasional smart takes on it, but they generally stink).

It’s like listening to a four year old repeatedly make poop jokes. So it was fitting that ABC’s Good Morning America had a group of kids ask Sandler questions about the film after they saw it.

Further Reading

Is Chester Missing blackface?

He performs to packed-out theatres and is a regular correspondent on a satirical television news show, Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola (LNN) on South African private TV channel, Etv. He’s at times raucously funny …