A hybrid of Groundhog Day and Memento sounds interesting in theory, but in practice it proves a surprising bore. That’s pretty much all that needs to be said of Adam Sandler’s latest comedy, which co-stars another Hollywood loss cannon, Drew Barrymore. Okay, perhaps that judgement is too harsh. There are some moments of slight humour but it’s too feeble to fill one and a half hours.
Based in Hawaii, Henry Roth (Adam Sandler) is a veterinary surgeon. He is also a philanderer. For some men it would make for an exciting life, but Henry can never go beyond the first date. When the women he dates asked for his phone number, Henry makes all sorts of wicked excuses for not wanting to go any further.
Commitment is precisely the reason why he only dates out-of-town women, until he meets local girl Lucy (Drew Barrymore) who he becomes instantly attracted to. They have breakfast and agree to meet the next morning, but there’s a problem – Lucy has short-term memory loss and doesn’t know who Henry is the following day. However, he is not deterred, falls in love with her and will do whatever it takes in the hope that she will remember him.
It is a welcome surprise to see Adam Sandler playing a down to earth character. He has dropped the neo-Jerry Lewis act and instead opts for a more subtle performance that show glimpses of depth and tenderness. Frankly, he is not very funny but he is at least bearable. Maybe Sandler will head down the same road as that other crazy slapstick comedian Jim Carrey and work his way into more ‘serious’ roles. If true, then 50 First Dates can be seen as a commendable progression, if not quite in the same league as last year’s Punch Drunk Love.
It is a bold statement, but possibly Drew Barrymore has never looked so cute. As Lucy she is adorable and adds compassion and warmth to her character. There is sensitivity in her performance that is touching to watch.
The major problem is the script. If it was funny then the film would be more memorable. The laughs that the film do receive come from Rob Schneider as Henry’s crazy friend and Lucy’s dim-witted brother also causes a few smirks. It’s also great to see Dan Aykroyd, albeit in a small role, as Lucy’s doctor. Despite his girth, he is a man surely no one can get tired of watching.
It would be difficult to call this film a comedy. Comedies make people laugh, regrettably 50 First Dates fails. It has softhearted moments that raise a smile but nothing hysterical while the nauseating soundtrack also doesn’t help. Admittedly though, it is great to watch Adam Sandler for more than an hour without cringing or wanting to leave the cinema before the film ends.