50 First Dates

on February 13, 2004 by Michael Tunison
The Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore comedy "50 First Dates" is the latest in a recent spate of films ("Memento," "Finding Nemo") dealing with the concept of short-term memory loss--the new amnesia, it seems. But while this reteaming of the stars of the 1998 hit "The Wedding Singer" finds some creative new uses for the now-familiar device, the film's heavily Sandlerized, goofball humor is mostly... well, forgettable.

Sandler plays a Hawaii-based marine veterinarian whose dream of sailing to Alaska to study walruses is temporarily put on hold when he meets and immediately hits it off with the woman of his dreams (Barrymore). Alas, it turns out that brain damage sustained in a car accident has left Barrymore's character with a form of memory loss that makes her unable to form new long-term memories from the day of the accident forward, seemingly dooming her to repeating the same day over and over. The hero's "Groundhog Day"-style challenge is to find a way to develop a lasting relationship with a woman who believes she's meeting him for the first time every day.

While the comedy has its amusing elements--including some extra-cute animal gags featuring denizens of the marine park where Sandler's character works--the knuckleheaded tone of most scenes prevents the film from generating much real wit. Over-the-top characters played by Sean Astin ("The Lord of the Rings") and frequent Sandler wingman Rob Schneider ("The Hot Chick") aren't as funny as the filmmakers think they are, though Lusia Strus ("Stir of Echoes") scores some hard-earned laughs as a bisexually ravenous, Russian-accented female co-worker at the marine park. Director Peter Segal, reuniting with Sandler after last year's successful "Anger Management," takes a story with some truly sweet, touching aspects and loses it amidst the juvenile sex jokes and crude slapstick that usually dominate the leading man's films. Starring Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Rob Schneider, Sean Astin, Lusia Strus and Dan Aykroyd. Directed by Peter Segal. Written by George Wing. Produced by Jack Giarraputo, Steve Golin and Nancy Juvonen. A Columbia release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for crude sexual humor and drug references. Running time: 98 min

Tags: psychological, disability, mental illness, Hawaii, romance, family, animals, Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Rob Schneider, Dan Aykroyd, Sean Astin, Jack Giarraputo, Peter Segal, Nancy Junoven, Blake Clark

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