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50 First Dates (12A)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary with Drew Barrymore and Director Peter Segal; Blooper reel; 5 deleted scenes with optional commentary; 2 featurettes; Filmographies; Making of 'The Dating Scene'. 3 music videos; Teaser for Adam Sandler's comedy album; Theatrical trailer.

ADAM Sandler seems to specialise in making forgettable comedies that only occasionally succeed in being as funny as they think they are - so it is, perhaps, inevitable that he should turn to the subject of amnesia in his latest bid to find laughs.

The big surprise, then, is how well 50 First Dates actually works, coming across as a genuinely heartfelt romantic comedy, which delivers its fair share of chortles to boot.

The film reunites Sandler with his Wedding Singer co-star, Drew Barrymore, and the two build on the chemistry that helped to make that film so successful, while also avoiding the obvious temptation to tread much of the same territory.

This time around, Sandler stars as Arctic marine life veterinarian, Henry Roth, who breaks up his days at the Animals at Sea Life Park, in Hawaii, by breaking the hearts of mainland tourists, in search of a quick-fix holiday romance.

His ‘love them and leave them’ policy is sorely tested, however, when he sets eyes on Barrymore’s charming young Lucy, whose carefree nature, and passion for sea life, quickly forces him to reconsider a future, which had included the dream of sailing to Alaska to study the underwater life of walruses.

Yet while Roth sets about re-imagining his happiness, he is mortified to discover that Lucy is suffering from short-term memory loss, and no longer has the ability to remember things for longer than a day, following an accident with her father some years earlier.

The only way for him to be with her, therefore, is to woo and win her every day, even if this means doing so for the rest of his life.

50 First Dates, while cumbersome in places, actually gets better the longer it continues, managing to outdo the Farrellys in its comic treatment of ailments, while offering some nice romantic touches for the
love-struck among you.

It may lack a certain subtlety and miss the mark in places, but its heart is big enough to compensate, thanks to some deft touches and the appeal of its lead couple.

Sandler is less irritating than usual, in this type of format (Punch Drunk Love aside), while Barrymore keeps the right side of sweet throughout, and several of the humorous scenarios succeed in making you laugh.

The support cast, too, is quite strong, with Dan Aykroyd turning up as a family doctor, and Sean Astin
and Rob Schneider making the most of fairly flimsy roles.

The use of a couple of the Sea Park’s more eccentric inhabitants, such as Willie the Penguin and a particularly engaging walrus, also serves to lighten proceedings.

The only real bugbear is the occasionally intrusive soundtrack, which insists on playing crass, Hawaiian-tinged cover versions of classics from The Cars and The Cure, and some of the early humour, which continues Sandler’s trend for dumbing things down to a hopelessly idiotic degree.

But for anyone willing to stick with it, there are at least a couple of laugh-out-loud moments, as well as a genuinely affecting central relationship, which makes this a date worth keeping.

Whether you’ll remember it the morning after, though, is extremely doubtful.

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