In the world of 50 First Dates, we're supposed to believe that Sandler - whose name this time out is Henry Roth, if it matters - is a veterinarian and ladies man who only romances tourists due to his commitment phobia. When he's not loving and leaving, Henry is giving all the sordid details of said behavior to his best buddy Ula (Rob Schneider sporting a tatty wig and accent that should have the Hawaiian Anti-Defamation League in arms) and elicits cute reaction shots from his animal patients and buddies, like some sort of evil Dr. Doolittle. But then he meets adorable Lucy Whitmore (Drew Barrymore) at a café and falls hard for her. They plan to meet the next day, but when he shows up, she has no idea who the hell he is.
The concept here is that Lucy was in a car accident a year before, one of those fortunate ones that don't leave you with any icky scars but result in a plot-friendly syndrome: She only remembers up to the day of the accident, her short-term memory only lasts a day and so she wakes up every morning thinking it's the day of the accident. This presents problems for the guy who's in love with her, meaning that every day he has to show up at the café and convince her to go out with him again. Henry also has to convince her dad and brother, who've been keeping everything in her life as it was the morning of her accident, to let him try and make Lucy remember things (or give her a videotape she can watch every morning which explains everything that's happened). It's like Memento meets Groundhog Day, but a love story, and in Hawaii - with vomiting walruses (yes!).
There's some fantastic potential here, which makes it all the more painful how badly the film fails in almost every regard. First, the script takes a ludicrous amount of time building up to when Lucy and Henry meet, filling the space in between with sub-moronic humor, half of which doesn't even make sense. Then, even after the romance begins, 50 First Dates is like listening to a child who's desperate for attention and says "poop!" whenever there's a lull in conversation. In terms of supporting characters, besides the aforementioned Rob Schneider minstrel act, there's also Sean Astin as a lisping, weightlifting 'roidhead and a brain-damaged guy named 10 Second Tom; will the laughs ever stop?
It's a true shame because the final scene is joyously romantic in a truly unexpected fashion, sure to leave half the audience (even the ones who hated most everything up until that point) smiling through their tears. But it's just too little far too late.
On DVD, a smorgasbord of extras await: deleted scenes, gag reel, commentary track (from director Peter Segal and Barrymore) , and more absurdities await.
Looking for love in all the wrong places.
Run time: 99 mins
In Theaters: Friday 13th February 2004
Box Office USA: $120.8M
Box Office Worldwide: $196.5M
Distributed by: Sony Pictures
Production compaines: Columbia Pictures Corporation, Happy Madison Productions, Anonymous Content, Flower Films (II)
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 44%
Fresh: 77 Rotten: 97
IMDB: 6.8 / 10
Director: Peter Segal
Screenwriter: George Wing
Starring: Adam Sandler as Henry Roth, Drew Barrymore as Lucy Whitmore, Rob Schneider as Ula, Sean Astin as Doug Whitmore, Lusia Strus as Alexa, Dan Aykroyd as Dr. Keats, Blake Clark as Marlin Whitmore, Amy Hill as Sue, Allen Covert as Ten Second Tom, Maya Rudolph as Stacy, Pomaika'i Brown as Nick, Joe Nakashima as Old Hawaiian Man, Jonathan Loughran as Jennifer, Peter Dante as Security Guard, Dom Magwili as Security Guard