It is not taking pity on Adam Sandler, who recently suffered the loss of his beloved bulldog, Meatball, to say that 50 First Dates is one of the few recent comedies worth the ungodly price of a movie ticket. And, following the disappointment of Mr. Deeds, Sandler fans can breathe a sigh of relief — there’s no need to jump ship. Needless to say, this is good news for Sandler, who was beginning to show signs of being just another played-out schtick; and for director Peter Segal, whose last collaboration was the poorly executed Anger Management. One could call 50 First Dates the Anna Kournikova of Sandler films — in that it does not achieve the slapstick hilarity of Happy Gilmore or the touching humor of Big Daddy but nonetheless captures something to keep us glued to the screen.
In classic Sandler form, 50 First Dates tells the story of Lucy, a girl without a short-term memory, played by Drew Barrymore. Sandler, as Henry, falls in love with her. That Henry has to make Lucy fall in love with him every day is such an implausible plot (and reminiscent of the hilarious Groundhog Day) that a lot of theatregoers might just pass the film by.
But they shouldn’t. Yes, the film is predictable. But it’s funny, and it’s not stupid. And if you like Sandler, you’re likely to love this film. The dialogue is good and the ending even has a little surprise in it.
The onscreen chemistry is due, in large part, to Sandler’s re-teaming with his old Wedding Singer co-star, Barrymore, who hasn’t been this cute since Home Fries. Rounding out the comic cataclysm is a standout performance by Sean Astin, who plays Lucy’s steroid-popping, lisping older brother.
The film’s supporting cast is stellar. Every character and component offers something essential to the film’s personality. Dan Aykroyd is hilarious and Rob Schneider, Sandler’s old “SNL” comrade, is perfect as Sandler’s quirky sidekick. The recurring appearance of America’s favorite meat product — Spam — and reggae versions of hit ’80s songs, continues Sandler’s mission to bring twentysomethings back to their childhoods.
Set in Hawaii, the film’s cinematography takes care of itself with the natural lush scenery and sunny colors. The only question is, why wasn’t the film released in summer? Maybe the filmmakers want to give us a balmy beach experience to ease our winter depression.
While this movie isn’t for the serious film critic, not everything good has to be an Oscar contender. Sometimes, you just want to shake off the winter blahs, relax and eat some Spam with your date.
Gina Pasfield is an editorial intern at Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].