50 FIRST DATES
Henry (Adam Sandler) is a womanising vet in a Hawaiian sea world park, who sets off on his yacht to fulfil a dream of sailing to Alaska and study walruses underwater. When the boat is damaged and he pulls in for repairs at a small Hawaiian island, he meets Lucy (Drew Barrymore). But Lucy doesn’t really meet him, since her post-accident condition means she forgets what happened yesterday. Every day. Neither are fit for a long term relationship, for their different reasons, but Henry is smitten – even though Lucy keeps forgetting him.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A girl starts every day afresh because an accident has left her without the ability to retain memories from one day to the next. Sleeping erases her day. (You wish!) So what happens if she meets a guy she likes? Hey, great iDEaaah! The trouble with lightbulb film ideas like this is that unless you can keep the lightbulb lit for 99 minutes, the thing splutters out of life. Seriously underwritten, 50 First Dates is not only lightweight but often so predictable and lame that your embarrassment at being in the cinema expands to fill the vacuum.
This totally formulaic Hollywood romantic comedy has four things going for it, in order: the Hawaiian scenery, a walrus with attitude, Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler. But the last one only applies if you’re a fan of the ultra-bland Sandler, who can’t raise his speaking tone beyond a monotone even in the most extreme circumstances.
Drew Barrymore is wasted here; it’s a Sandler vehicle (and dedicated to his late father who died before the film was completed) and Barrymore is held back by the screenplay’s simplistic characterisation.
For all that, 50 First Dates is laid-back enjoyable; you could call it a date movie and use the flat spots to make your moves, and the scenery is almost worth the ticket price. The rest of the value comes from the walrus with the personality of a stand up comic. If you like schmalzy, hazy, woozy rom-coms, this may just be enough.
Review by Louise Keller:
The premise is dodgy and the script is a bit ho-hum, but somehow 50 First Dates wins us with its goofy, good natured charm and likeable characters. The glue that keeps it all together is the chemistry between Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, and while the film may not have the emotional pay off of their 1998 romantic comedy collaboration The Wedding Singer, the easy banter and nonsensical situations make this easy-viewing indeed.
A variation on the theme of Groundhog Day in Hawaii with a sprinkling of Memento, director Peter Segal knows exactly what sort of film he is making, and keeps a handle on what works best. And what looks best with gorgeous Hawaiian settings, whose lazy palms whisper in the wind and whose dazzling blue ocean beckons alluringly.
Unashamedly milking the audience for laughs from the compelling animal cast, we meet Willie, the cute-as-a-button penguin and Jacko, the hip, scene-stealing moustachioed walrus who waves, gives a few ‘take 5s’ and even vomits on cue. But the animals aren’t the only scene stealers. Rob Schneider’s Ula – Henry’s wonky-eyed best friend – is rather endearing, and wait until you see Sean Astin’s steroid-popping, lithping, body-builder Doug, whose pecs are ultimately larger than his brains. If you haven’t seen Astin in anything except Lord of The Rings, you are in for a surprise! And Lusia Strus’s gender-bending German assistant Alexa, with the Tyrolean plaits and the sergeant-major attitude that’s coloured with sexual innuendo, is a hoot. Of course, the reason that the wacky offbeat characters work so well, is because the film is grounded by some very real characters. Characters like Pomaika'i Brown as the heavily tattooed indigenous chef, Amy Hill’s caring café owner Sue and Blake Clark, who plays it very straight as Lucy’s father, intent on maintaining the routine of playing out the same events – day after day, after day…
There are moments that are played just for laughs – like Allen Covert’s ’10 second Tom’, who makes us all try to think of more economical ways of conveying information – bearing in mind, we all know that the conversation will begin from scratch again, in just 10 seconds. And there are moments that are just plain ‘sweet’ – when Henry and Lucy enjoy ‘the first kiss’, again and again – and always in beautiful locations.
It may have little substance, but 50 First Dates is good fun for the undemanding. It’s a good-looking escape with a healthy dose of frivolity… so what are you waiting for?
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50 FIRST DATES (M)
CAST: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Rob Schneider, Sean Astin, Lusia Strus, Dan Aykroyd, Amy Hill
PRODUCER: Jack Giarraputo, Steve Golin, Nancy Juvonen, Larry Kennar, Adam Sandler
DIRECTOR: Peter Segal
SCRIPT: George Wing
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jack N. Green
EDITOR: Jeff Gourson
MUSIC: Teddy Castellucci
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alan Au
RUNNING TIME: 99 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 25, 2004
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.