50 First Dates Review
By Shawn McKenzie 03/11/2004
I’ve written many times about how I think that Adam Sandler is misunderstood. I’ve liked almost everything he has done, including Little Nicky. Most other critics have only liked two of his movies: 2002’s Punch Drunk Love and 1998’s The Wedding Singer. The latter of the two worked so well because his chemistry with his co-star, Drew Barrymore, worked so well. It makes sense that he would want to work with her again, and darn it if the chemistry didn’t work twice with their new pairing, 50 First Dates.
Henry Roth (Sandler) is a local player in Hawaii who has an intense fear of commitment, so he makes excuses to the women, mostly tourists, he sleeps with in order to get out of a relationship. This springs from the fact that his college girlfriend cheated on him with her professor. He works as a veterinarian at Hawaii’s Sea Life Park with his assistant Alexa (Lusia Strus), whom he’s not sure is a man or a woman, and his friend Ula (Rob Schneider), who has five kids and many surfing injuries. Jocko the walrus and Willie the penguin are his favorite two animals in the park. Henry also wants to be commitment-free because he is planning to take his boat, the Sea Serpent, to Alaska to study walruses, once he finishes fixing the boat up. One day, while sailing his boat, it cracks apart, and he swims to shore and has breakfast at the Hooky Lau Café, which is run by waitress Sue (Amy Hill) and short order cook Nick (Nephi Pomaikai Brown.) He meets a good-looking, sweet girl there named Lucy Whitmore (Barrymore), who’s building structures out of her breakfast waffles. He hits on her, and they seem to bond in a way that he has never experienced before. She invites him to have breakfast with her the next morning, which he agrees to, despite his policy not to date a local girl. Since he finds himself dreaming about her, he is excited to meet her again, but is disappointed the next day when she doesn’t seem to recognize him. Sue, who was Lucy’s deceased mother’s best friend, then tells Henry that Lucy suffered a brain injury about a year ago when she was on a trip with her father Marlin (Blake Clark) to get a pineapple for his birthday. He swerved to avoid hitting a cow, and the resulting accident left her unable to retain any short-term memories, though her long-term memories before the accident were left intact. She remembers everything before the accident, but when she goes to sleep, she forgets everything from the previous day. Her physician, Dr. Keats (Dan Aykroyd), calls it Goldfield’s Syndrome, and is unable to help her, so every day is October 13th to Lucy. In fact, Marlin and her steroid-popping brother Doug (Sean Astin) go to great lengths to make sure she relives every day as if it’s that date, including giving her the same newspaper and rewrapping Marlin’s birthday present. Henry is still attracted to her, so he ends up going through a different routine every day in order to make Lucy fall in love with him again. This disturbs Marlin and Doug, who don’t want to upset her, so they ban him from meeting her at the café. He decides instead to intercept her on the road, and his daily quest to win her heart continues. Marlin changes his mind about Henry when he notices that she happily sings the Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” when she’s with him. After winning over her family, Henry tries to see if there may be a way she can retain her memories, so he can finally have a future with her.
This movie was kind of a reverse Groundhog Day. Near the beginning, after Henry finds out about Lucy’s condition, he bets Nick he can pick Lucy up, and he uses his previous knowledge of what attracts her to his advantage. That is just like in Day when Bill Murray does the same thing in order to attract Andie MacDowell.
As a movie on its own, I liked it. It had almost the same appeal as The Wedding Singer (I’m sorry, but Wedding has the advantage because of the song Sandler sings in the end.) Another connection to Wedding besides Sandler and Barrymore is the music. Even though the movie takes place in the present, a lot of the music is modern acts doing covers of ‘80s tunes.
It appears that I’m not the only one who likes the movie. Most of the reviews I’ve read have liked it, kind of the same way they liked Wedding. I think that they like it when Sandler shows his sensitive side. He makes possibly the perfect chick flick: one that has heart for the women and crude humor for the men.
50 First Dates is a great date flick that would be okay to go see even if you don’t have a date. The only real problem I had with it was the end. I don’t want to spoil it, but when you see it, I think you’ll agree that it is unintentionally cruel. Otherwise, check it out while Sandler is still in the critic’s favor. I’m sure he is just one movie with him beating up a legendary game show host away from losing that favor again.
Thanks to Century Theatres for letting me see this film. Visit them at www.centurytheatres.com to find the location near you.
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