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50 First Dates (2004)

  Directed by: Peter Segal
Written by: George Wing
Starring: Drew Barrymore, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider
Links: 50 First Dates on the IMDb, Official site, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD
Genre: Comedy

This movie gets: 6.00 (2 ratings)
nofreelist.com Ranking: Ranked equal 129th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

50 First Dates (2004) is also mentioned in pearly's review of Under the Radar (2004).

"There are many better comedies" - a review by pearly

Let me say right off the bat that I am not a huge fan of Adam Sandler's I-make-the-same-movie-over-and-over-again comedies. They're fine, I guess. I don't hate them. I don't go back to the box office and demand that my money be immediately reimbursed, plus some extra for my time, and a bit more for the petrol, and even more for the popcorn which I threw up in a disgusted response to his film. Nope, don't hate him that much.

But I don't really go around talking about how he's a comedic genius either. Or that he's the voice of the new generation of comedy, or that I haven't seen anyone that funny since so-and-so. Nope. You see, I'm one of those, well, let's just call me discerning. I'm a discerning comedy viewer, and I expect a certain level. I won't laugh at any old crap.

Sometimes, even if I find something funny I won't laugh. Yes, I'm a crusty old movie reviewer who's simply not in touch with the youth of today. No, wait, that's someone else. Where am I?

Oh yeah, 50 First Dates. That's right.

In 50 First Dates, Sandler, playing a character named Henry, who is a serial one-night-stander, and also happens to work tending sea animals at a theme park, falls for a girl (Lucy, who is played by Drew Barrymore) who just happens to be suffering from short-term memory loss, and once she falls asleep, wakes up not being able to remember anything that happened since a car accident she had some years (months? whatever) earlier. These things which she cannot remember include, of course, Henry.

That's all fine. I'm happy with that. It's a nicely concocted piece of fiction, ripe with the possibility of obvious comedy moments. So, what's wrong with the film? Well, I'll tell you.

  1. No Steve Buscemi. All Sandler comedies have to have Buscemi in them. It's just one of those rules which should be followed. He doesn't have to be in there long, he just has to be in there so that you can remember how ace he is, and be satisfied with what you've seen. Instead, in this one, you get Rob Schneider. This is not an adequate substitution.
  2. It has Rob Schneider in it. Yeah, I just mentioned that, I know. But it's bad enough that it deserves two mentions, possibly more. I don't like Schneider. He's not funny in this film, and I doubt he's ever been funny. I haven't watched enough of his stuff to be able to make this prediction, but I don't care, I'm making it anyway.
  3. That running joke with Henry's assistant, and whether she's a guy or a gal. Not funny. Shut up about it please.
  4. The character of Lucy's brother. Sean Astin's first movie role since his success with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), and what is his part? A steroid-riddled guy with a lisp. I couldn't help but use my confused / grumpy face whenever he came on screen.

And what's right with it? The story is an interesting one, and the bits that weren't meant to be funny were more likeable than the humourous bits. I find this to be a common problem with comedies. Too many of them are going for too many jokes that are so obvious and not funny enough to actually be considered funny. 50 First Dates would have been better done as a funny drama rather than a pure comedy, I think.

It's not that I don't like the comedy genre; I like to laugh as much as the next guy. It's just that I like my comedy a little less obvious. And with less Rob Schneider.

pearly gives this movie 5 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 25 Aug 2004

"Pleasingly old-school Sandler" - a review by mino

Adam Sandler movies fall into two distinct camps: light-hearted, entertaining enough, fairly funny (though rarely side-splitting) romps, like the early Billy Madison (1995), Happy Gilmore (1996) and The Wedding Singer (1998); and juvenile unfunny crap like Little Nicky (2000) and Big Daddy (1999). Sure, there's some overlap between the two; but on the whole, I think there's a clear break between his (generally earlier) funny movies, and his (generally more recent) stupid movies.

50 First Dates, while not exactly the greatest movie you'll see this year (unless you only see one movie this year, maybe), is still a welcome return to old-style Sandler, a vaguely sociopathic but rather sweet and ultimately lovable misfit. It's a schtick that is a little bit tired, but most Sandler movies of this type manage to include enough variations on the theme that they're still quite entertaining, and 50 First Dates is no exception.

Sandler plays Henry Roth, a vet at a Sea World-type place (yes, this is an excuse for stupid phsyical gags involving sea-lions, though I'm sure you could have guessed that) who falls for a girl he meets at a café, Lucy (Drew Barrymore). Having hit it off immediately, Henry returns to the restaurant the next day, only to be totally dismayed when he finds that Lucy has no idea who he is — after a car accident, she's totally lost her short-term memory, leaving her unable to process new memories. Yup: it's Memento (2000), the comedy.

In fact, it's not everyday you get to describe a movie as ‘Memento meets Groundhog Day (1993) meets The Wedding Singer’, so darned if I'm not going to do that now. Like Groundhog Day, a good deal of the humour in 50 First Dates comes from the fact that Henry has to woo Lucy again every single day, and does things differently each time, to see what works and what doesn't. And as for The Wedding Singer: well, not only do Sandler and Barrymore pair up again here, but the chemistry between them is quite similar. You can say what you like about the two of them as actors, but the fact is they do play very well off each other, and I don't think this movie would have been nearly as good without the obvious comedy chemistry the two share.

Rob Schneider turns up again, of course, and as always is the least funny thing in the movie — with the exception of his very funny tribute to (dig at?) Happy Gilmore, which was one of the highlights of the film for me, along with the equally excellent sly dig at The Sixth Sense (1999). As is often the case with Sandler, some of the non-Schneider bit players really make the movie, though: notable here are Dan Aykroyd as Lucy's doctor, and the very funny movie debutant Pomaika'i Brown as the chef in the restaurant, along with a couple of Sandler's other ‘usual suspects’.

While there isn't much that's laugh-out-loud hilarious in 50 First Dates, it is far more amusing than most big-budget Hollywood comedies I've seen in a long time. Sandler's brand of comedy is largely inoffensive (except the horrid assault on one's ears caused by his insistence on singing in all of his movies, which hasn't worked since The Wedding Singer) and surprisingly feelgood — not only is the relationship between Henry and Lucy really quite touching, the scenes with Lucy's family (father Blake Clark and brother Sean Astin, who is hilariously unrecognisable, if not exactly hilarious), who go out of their way to recreate the day after Lucy's last memory every single day so as not to distress her, are actually quite emotional and moving as well as funny.

50 First Dates is the kind of movie that few people will love, but I think nearly everyone would like.

mino gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 22 Apr 2004

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 6.00
Lowest rating: 5 (by pearly)
Highest rating: 7 (by mino)
 
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