Delightfully funny and surprisingly touching romantic comedy, enlivened by burgeoning and fantastic chemistry from Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, 50 First Dates is a cut above a lot of romantic comedies.
Henry Roth(Adam Sandler) is a womanising, love them and leave them guy who works as a marine vet in Hawaii. His usual policy is to make up fabricated stories with attractive tourists, give them a good time then leave them . That is until one day he walks into his local diner and spots the beautiful art teacher Lucy Whitmore(Drew Barrymore). But with Lucy it’s different as he finds himself feeling love for the first proper time. This budding romance however is dampened by the news he receives the following day. and being rejected by her, it’s explained to him that Lucy was in a car accident a year prior. The injuries she sustained have rendered her without the ability to create new memories, so every morning she wakes up thinking it’s the day of the accident but doesn’t know about the trauma. All her memories from before the accident are there which include the preparations for her father’s birthday; it’s the forming of new memories that’s the problem. Her protective father Marlin( Blake Clark)and steroid using brother Doug( Sean Astin) have even made it look like it’s the same day as a re-enactment as they don’t want her to deal with the emotional turmoil and knowledge of what happened to her. With this knowledge that the woman he cares for has short term amnesia, vows not to give up on what he sees as his shot at proper love. are none too pleased with this and warn Henry against pursuing this. But Henry is nothing if not determined to continue a romance, even if it means having to recount every day to Lucy in the hopes of breaking through her gaps in memory. With the help of a video camera and a diary, he might just do the trick, or so he hopes as he resolves to win her each day. Will romance blossom in this unlikely and unusual relationship that is fraught with setback yet filled with hope? You’ll have to watch in order to find out.
Peter Segal directs with a real feel and sweetness, which makes 50 First Dates flow very well. The location of Hawaii is a gorgeous backdrop for the film it must be said and a joy to view.While it still has some hallmarks of what you expect in a film starring Adam Sandler such as a bit of gross out humour and questionable elements , 50 First Dates is a far more gentle affair with warmth and an unexpected depth in parts. Not all of it works but it has a bit more edge than your average romantic comedy and I commend it for that. Plus, you find yourself really caring for the two characters at the heart of it. Sometimes in films of this ilk, the characters can mjst become. Thankfully, 50 First Dates actually delves into these characters and let’s us experience things with them. Hats off to the film for allowing that to happen and not just settling for the same old story. That’s not to say it’s flawless( some supporting characters and parts aren’t that great it has to be stated), but it definitely rises above other movies within the genre. A nice selection of familiar songs , done to a reggae style is also a treat for the viewer.
Adam Sandler is often an actor I can take or leave, but he’s just right here. He dials down on the frat boy antics and stupidity, choosing to okay things with humour but relatively straight. This approach works and it’s one of Sandler’s least irritating performances. Drew Barrymore is the MVP here contributing a genuine, lovely and luscious performance. Barrymore is the possessor of one of the most adorable and sunny dispositions to be put on film and it’s used beautifully here. Rather than just be a sad character, she lets us feel how Lucy is a happy girl slowly realising that romance isn’t easy due to her condition and her desire to remember is supremely touching and filled with a sense of hope. I think that as a film, 50 First Dates has an ace in the hole in the chemistry between these two that is totally infectious. Rob Schneider has a few laughs as Henry’s stoner friend, but becomes a nuisance as the film progresses. More believable and standing out are Blake Clark and Sean Astin as the concerned father and brother of Lucy. They bounce off one another with humour and character, particularly Astin as a steroid loving wannabe bodybuilder who thinks he’s tough, yet is a long way from that. Kudos to Dan Aykroyd as well for a very good turn as Lucy’s wisecracking doctor.
So all in all, 50 First Dates is an enjoyably funny, gentle and romance that hugely benefits from the rapport of Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore and a deftly told story of a different but lovely coupling.