50 First Dates
Guys are gross…or so my sisters regularly pointed out to me when we were growing up. While I’ve come to realize that this is, in fact, the truth, I have also learned that there is another power that can bring balance to the male foulness effect…girls. Adam Sandler is a perfect example of this mystery force of nature. His usual line of immature and often crude humor has been the trademark of his career. Despite then, Sandler never shines more brilliantly than when he teams with the enchanting Drew Barrymore. The chemistry of their cinematic union was undeniable in The Wedding Singer and it was only a matter of time before it happened again.
Personally, I can’t explain why these two fit so well together. She’s witty and beautiful, while he’s silly and has a head shaped like an egg. Of course, when a movie is shot in Hawaii, a good director could make Tim Allen and Kirstie Alley look like they have chemistry. But even with it’s very odd premise, 50 First Dates is a pure showcase for Sandler and Barrymore’s romantic magic.
Henry Roth (Adam Sandler) is a marine veterinarian playboy (something every guy wants to do when he grows up) who spends his days caring for animals in a Hawaiian water park while wooing tourist femmes into one week stands by night. His lifelong ambition is to sail away to colder seas and study the hidden life of walruses (something not every guy wants to do when he grows up). Nothing can stand in the way of his confirmed bachelorhood until he meets Lucy Whitmore (Drew Barrymore) at a local Spam and eggs dive run by the hilariously sweet duo Sue (Amy Hill) and Nick (Pomaika'i Brown).
Henry’s usual suave techniques prove less than effective on the mysterious Lucy. His continued pursuits lead him to the discovery of her sad secret. She suffers from a head injury that prevents her from remembering anything that happened the day before. Even worse, she has no recollection of the accident and wakes up each new day completely unaware of her condition. Lucy’s protective father (Blake Clark) and brother (Sean Astin), are suspicious of this stranger who has taken an interest in their daughter, but cautiously allow him into their lives as Henry and Lucy begin a relationship that must start from scratch with each new day.
Adam Sandler is one of the few SNL alums to truly figure out how to work the Hollywood business. His distinctive comedic style served him well earlier in his career, but the slightly more serious corner that he has rounded in the last few years has only proven his versatility. Of course, it may just be that he has learned to surround himself with truly talented actors who can support his dramatic short comings. Drew Barrymore is one such gifted actor who really brings the best out in the boy. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for that sweet smile, but this is definitely one of Drew’s better romantic comedy performances.
That chemistry isn’t the film’s only highlight. The supporting cast is one of the strongest to ever grace a romantic comedy. Rob Schneider plays Henry’s best buddy, stoner Ula and seems to be the incarnation of Sandler’s nastier side. Schneider is hilarious doing to the Hawaiian beach bum what Martin Short did to the wedding planner.
The biggest stretch (that too often steals the scene) is Sean Astin as Lucy’s steroid pumping, lisp burdened older brother. Fresh off his role as a hairy hobbit, he takes a turn as a hairy weightlifting fisherman. It’s the kind of switch an actor like Astin needed to separate himself from the fantasy epic. Unfortunately, he plays the role so well, people may now always recognize him as “that guy with a lisp from the Drew Barrymore movie”.
Adam is on to something with this partnership with Drew. He’ll tempt the fates and give romantic comedy sans Barrymore a try with Tea Leoni at his side in the upcoming Spanglish. Probably a mistake. I suspect he’ll see the error of his ways and team again with Drew in the not too distant future. In the meantime, the magic of 50 First Dates will be plenty to tide us over.
My latest pet peeve is the painful art of menu padding. The act of stuffing line items into DVD menu items to make the special features section look chock full of goodies is just plain annoying. With expectations on DVD extras increasing with each new release, use of this shameless tactic is on the rise. Fortunately 50 First Dates goes the opposite direction, choosing to pad the extras, not the menus, and making a pretty good offering for a one disc deal.
Suspiciously and disappointingly absent from any commentary is one Mr. Adam Sandler. Instead, director Peter Segal and leading lady Drew Barrymore provide a syrupy sweet discussion track. Their conversation is a lot of fun to listen to, if not a little annoying at times. Peter gleefully points out lots of hidden details and special moments while Barrymore graciously praises the talents of the entire cast. If you really love the film (as well you should), you’ll love hearing the two bantering away. If not, you can try listening to it as a drinking game based around the number of times Drew giggles and Peter says the words “Spam” and “Hukilau”.
Finally a film gives the outtakes reel its due. You’ll be treated to seven solid minutes of goof ups, slip ups, hang ups and bottoms up (Schneider’s toosh gets way too much inclusion). Of course when you have children on the set they’re bound to wreak a little havoc, and Schneider and Sandler do just that. Oh, the little kids have some pretty funny mistakes too.
The making of featurette, The Dating Scene is the best bit of bonus. If you watch nothing else, make sure it gets a good solid viewing at the end of the movie. This backstage pass to the Hawaiian paradise is full of great details and background information that reveal just how much attention and effort really went into crafting the story, the characters and the film in general.
One of the more unique extras is a somewhat interesting introduction to the Hawaiian slang “pidgin”. I was gonna be kolohe and put in planny my new learned pidgin inda review, but I didn’t wanna be a lolo and have no one giving stink eye and saying no aak. Native pidgin speakers, please forgive me if that didn’t make any sense.
There’s a lot more to see, including deleted scenes, a Comedy Central: Reel Comedy special, previews, filmographies, and even music videos. It’s a great DVD treat that’s well worth the extra time you’ll spend exploring it all.
Reviewed By: Scott Gwin