50 First Dates (9/10)

Copyright © 2004 by Tony Medley

When I first heard of this idea, I was less than enthusiastic. When I saw the trailer, my enthusiasm dipped close to the zero mark. Hawaii playboy Henry Roth (Adam Sandler), a marine life veterinarian, falls for Lucy Whitmore (Drew Barrymore) in a coffee shop. Unfortunately, Lucy was in an automobile accident and loses her short-term memory every night, thereby forgetting what happened the day before. Even though they have a great day, the next morning she remembers nothing, especially meeting Henry and liking him. So when they see each other the next day he’s a complete stranger to her. What an uncompelling idea, thought I. Talk about déjà vu all over again.

Then I saw the movie. Some talented filmmakers, including actors Sandler and Barrymore, but especially Director Peter Segal and writer George Wing, have translated what sounds silly and unworkable into a humorous  91-minute love story. They’re helped enormously by Director of Photography Jack Green whose shots of Hawaii create a beguiling ambience.

What sounds boring and repetitive is actually romantic and involving. The more I see of Adam Sandler, the more I appreciate his talent. He and Barrymore, first seen together in The Wedding Singer, have good onscreen chemistry. For the first time Barrymore came across to me as a beautiful woman.

They are aided by some good, off-the-wall supporting performances. Rob Schneider plays Ula, Henry’s one-eyed Hawaiian buddy, and Sean Astin plays Doug Whitmore, Lucy’s steroid-popping brother. Both are captivatingly bizarre. Ula, for instance, thinks that sharks are like dogs and will only bite you if you tease them. Which explains why Henry is constantly stitching up his wounds. As for Astin’s interpretation of Doug, well, you have to see it to appreciate it. He’s stranger than Ula.

There is one scene, in particular, that had me rolling in the aisles laughing. But mostly this is an entertaining love story.


February 9, 2004