Movie Review
50 First Dates
50 First Dates poster
By Craig Younkin     Published February 15, 2004
US Release: February 13, 2004

Directed by: Peter Segal
Starring: Adam Sandler , Drew Barrymore , Sean Astin , Rob Schneider

Running Time: 106 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $120,777,000
This is a romantic comedy, but it usually doesn't feel like one.
50 First Dates is essentially like Groundhog Day where the guy must continually think up ways of wooing the girl until he gets it right. Only rather than utilizing the one joke premise much like Groundhog Day did, 50 First Dates sadly uses the regular Sandler motif of "go as low as you can go.? And it doesn't go with the rest of the film at all.

Sandler plays Dr. Henry Roth, an aquarium veterinarian in Hawaii who is also a bit of a playboy. The film opens with several women saying that they met this one fantastic guy while vacationing there, but ran out on them after a short fling. Henry has a commitment phobia and goes for tourists because they don't represent anything lasting. He dedicates his life to the animals that he cares for and has dreams of studying the walruses in Alaska once he gets his dilapidated boat up and running.

Only things change when he meets Lucy (Drew Barrymore), who comes to the local cafe every day. The two seem to hit it off but there is something about Lucy that Henry doesn't realize. Several years ago she was involved in a car crash, which made it impossible for her to retain any short-term memory. Though it is now a year later, she has no knowledge of it or anything that has happened after it, and her dad (Blake Clark) and brother (Sean Astin) make every attempt to shield her from the truth. Henry can't get her out of his mind, though, and devises different ways of meeting Lucy throughout the days. And oddly enough, Lucy shows little signs of improvement on the days she meets with him. He even introduces the concept of videotaping the day and the events of the year so that Lucy can catch up.

There is sweetness to be sure in this romantic comedy, and it happens whenever Sandler and Barrymore share the screen together. They try desperately to renew the innocent little romance that they had in "The Wedding Singer", and with Sandler displaying his boyish charm and Barrymore being cute as a button, they almost succeed. However, they are stuck in an uneven movie that tries to mix childish jokes about penis size, masturbation, and urinary discharge with a heavier drama about coping with Lucy's illness. The result is usually like oil and water.

No one is going to believe Sandler as a playboy or even a veterinarian, and they don't really have to. What they do have to believe in is a romance with sparks, but unfortunately the unevenness of the rest of the movie takes away from that and the result is never quite as romantic as you might hope. Very little of this movie is actually funny, and nobody in it appears to be trying that hard, except Rob Schneider as a Hawaiian pothead, who tries way too hard. This is a romantic comedy, but it usually doesn't feel like one.
Craig's Grade: C
Craig's Overall Grading: 340 graded movies
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  • 50 First Dates Crowd Report
    February 14, 2004    Judging off that crowd, I was ready to see a gross as low as $4.5 million for Friday. -- Lee Tistaert