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50 FIRST DATES
U.S. Release Date: February 13, 2004
Distributor: Sony / Columbia
Director: Peter Segal
Writer: George Wing
Producer: Jack Giarraputo, Steve Golin, Daniel Lupi (executive)
Composer: Teddy Castellucci
Cast: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Rob Schneider, Kevin James
Running Time: 1 hour and 36 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (crude sexual humor and drug references)

49 Dates Too Many
by C.A. Wolski

Just in time for Valentine's Day, 50 First Dates tries to be romantic and funny, but is, instead, an exercise in creepiness.

Pairing for the first time since 1998's The Wedding Singer, Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore play would-be lovers Henry Roth and Lucy Whitmore. Henry, a veterinarian at a Hawaiian sea park, is the local lothario, seducing and bedding a bevy of tourists who promise never to forget him. But Henry does, moving on to his next conquest with the glee of a teenager.

That is until he meets Lucy in a local diner, has breakfast with her, and makes plans to see her again. When they meet again, Henry is astounded that Lucy doesn't remember him. It seems that this woman—whom Henry has fallen for and can't get out of his mind—has no short-term memory.

Her brain injured in a car accident the year before, Lucy continually relives the day of the accident in every detail with the help of her father Marlin (Blake Clark) and brother Doug (Sean Astin), blissfully unaware that time is passing. This presents Henry a big problem, he has to make Lucy fall in love with him every day, while helping her to come to grips, again, every day, with the consequences of her injury.

The set up is sort of interesting: How do you make someone fall in love with you time and time again? But the script by George Wing has several fundamental problems both in terms of the comedy and the romance. Lucy has a tragic injury that isn't something to laugh at, nor is the ways in which her brother and father try to protect her. And because of her injury, Lucy is a static character. She can never really grow or change, though Wing tries to get around that by having Henry jog her memory every day (why the brain specialists at the "premiere" clinic where Lucy was treated didn't prescribe this is left a mystery). But this leaves viewers in a state of perpetually watching the first act of a three-act play, with stupid comic side bits (Walruses vomiting, Sandler golfing) to make us forget that there really is no plot here.

The movie's other big problem is the peripheral characters. Rob Schneider is simply annoying playing Ula, a Hawaiian who always has his children in tow. But Lusia Strus as Alexa, Henry's assistant, and Astin's Doug (who has a bizarre speech impediment) are just abysmal. Strus, in particular, doesn't even seem to be in the same movie as the rest of the cast and is subjected to various lesbian and vomit gags that wear thin very quickly.

Sandler and Barrymore do have a real chemistry together. You want them to get together and live happily every after, just as they did in The Wedding Singer. And this might be the biggest problem with this would-be romantic Memento, they just couldn't forget the earlier outing. Which is too bad, because, as a consequence, 50 First Dates deserves to be forgotten.


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