50 FIRST DATES
Review Date: February 11, 2004
Director: Peter Segal
Writer: George Wing
Producers: Jack Giarraputo, Adam Sandler
Actors: Adam Sandler as Henry Roth
Drew Barrymore as Lucy Whitmore
Sean Astin as Doug Whitmore
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Year of Release: 2004
A Hawaiian veterinarian with commitment issues falls for a cute local blonde at breakfast one morning, a girl who, unbeknownst to him, has short-term memory loss, which means that she basically forgets everything that happened to her during any day, as soon as she goes to bed. To combat her forgetfulness, and to convince her father that he really does love his daughter, the vet attempts to make the girl fall in love with him every single day. A masterfully marketed "event flick" created to coincide with that wonderful day we call "Valentine's Day", ensues (You know that Hallmark cards invented Valentine's Day, right? You know...to make money. Yup, yup. Discuss amongst yourselves.)
You know you're not witnessing one of the better Adam Sandler comedies when the funniest thing about the movie turns out to be Samwise Gamgee aka Sean Astin aka Rudy aka The Guy Who Was a Jerk to Us When We Interviewed Him Once. In fact, props to Mr. Astin for choosing both this peculiar role after his most memorable turn in THE LORD OF THE RINGS series and for providing him with a hilarious lisp and plenty of unchecked steroid rage and bulk. Unfortunately for us, he's pretty much the only funny thing about this movie which drips in sentimentality, actually gets serious for a scene or two and showcases Sandler as one of his most typical and least funny characters. Even the idea of him as the island philanderer didn't work much, but we're supposed to believe that he's a veterinarian to boot? Gimme a break. Sandler's usual gang of misfit buddies were also mostly absent, save for Rob Schneider, who seems to have lost his comedic edge with a weak, over-the-top, stereotypical role as a stoned Hawaiian goofball here. Not funny. I'm usually not a fan of Drew Barrymore, but she was actually pretty good in this film. She had the thankless role of the "straight man" in the movie and even had to "get dramatic" in a couple of scenes, and did so with much adorability and aplomb. Nice going. But at the end of the day, I would assume that most people out there (including myself) go to see an Adam Sandler movie to be amused and other than Astin's character and the wacky premise, not much about this movie amused my easily-amused ass.
And what's with these low-rent comedies using Hawaii as a gorgeous backdrop for their lackluster screenplays of late (THE BIG BOUNCE sucked even worse than this one) Here's hoping that the boys from Broken Lizard utilized their gorgeous setting to its full potential (CLUB DREAD) and didn't just "use it" to make the film look good, like the other two films. It's also to note that, as per most Sandler flicks, this one had a pretty decent soundtrack, although for some reason, most of the songs were "covers" of the original tunes. I also want to give a shout-out to Blake Clark, the actor who played Barrymore's dad in this movie, if only because he provided the film and his character, with the essential amount of believability. The film's premise was also interesting at first, but unlike films like MEMENTO and GROUNDHOG DAY, started feeling redundant after a while. Basically, this movie is a rental at best and definitely not one of Sandler's most memorable efforts...not by a long shot! I did appreciate the film's conclusion though...not entirely as predictable as I imagined. All that said, you're definitely better off renting either of the aforementioned movies this weekend or watching HONEYMOON IN VEGAS or WHEN HARRY MET SALLY for the umpteenth time. Now there are a couple of movies that work on both the comedic and sentimental levels. And oh yeah...50 FIRST DATES is no WEDDING SINGER!