Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Rob Schneider
Director: Peter Segal
Running Time: 109 mins
50 First Dates is an American film about a womanising aquarium vet living in Hawaii who finally meets a woman who he wants to commit to. However, he soon discovers that she suffers from short-term memory loss, and every day, she forgets she ever met him.
I know what you’re thinking. Adam Sandler. Happy Madison. Even Rob Schneider? But believe me when I tell you that 50 First Dates isn’t all that bad. In fact, I thought it was pretty great. Thanks to a calm performance from Adam Sandler alongside his wonderful co-star in Drew Barrymore, this film is fun, enjoyable and also surprisingly heartfelt. It’s a romantic comedy that seems preposterous and silly at first, but the more you learn about the characters, the more investing it genuinely becomes.
I want to start not with my favourite part of this movie, but what is the make-or-break for most people thinking about watching it. This isn’t the sort of Adam Sandler movie that we’ve unfortunately grown accustomed to. As he’s proved on numerous occasions, Sandler can be a properly likable and enjoyable lead star when he tones down the idiocy and behaves like a normal human being, and no film shows that better than this.
Although the film starts off by telling us he’s a womaniser that’s afraid of commitment, what works so well is watching his character, Henry, fall in love with Lucy, played by Drew Barrymore. For almost the entire runtime, he’s a man overwhelmed by his love for this woman, and although it may seem difficult, he does absolutely everything he can for her, almost always in a completely selfless way.
And that passion really comes across well in Adam Sandler’s performance. It’s immediately easy to love Lucy as much as Henry does, simply because Drew Barrymore’s performance is so lovely at every moment, but the fact that I felt so attached to Henry really surprised me. Sandler doesn’t just play a rom-com lead, but an intelligent, passionate and heartfelt character, and in real style, making this easily one of his best performances of all.
What I liked most about 50 First Dates, the story, comes hand in hand with those excellent performances. Save for the cheesy opening sequence and a rushed and initially preposterous introduction to how Lucy lives her life with short-term memory loss, the way the plot unfolds in this movie is absolutely brilliant.
Wonderfully upbeat and light-hearted early on, the deeper that we get into the complicated relationship between these two people as the story develops, the more dramatic it all becomes. Sure, there’s still the odd toilet joke (courtesy of Rob Schneider), but in general, the final fifty minutes or so of this film aren’t what you would expect at all.
Dodging so many rom-com clichés, the film ultimately becomes a very bittersweet tale about a man and a woman who do want to be together, but seemingly can’t find any way to do so. Sandler, Barrymore and supporting player Blake Clark all give performances that make this hugely effective, whilst director Peter Segal also brilliantly lowers the tone and pace of the film as we get into more dramatic territory, all making for an even more engrossing watch.
Overall, I was really surprised by this movie. Don’t let the rom-com labels or Adam Sandler put you off, because both of those, as well as a heap of other things, work really well in this movie. A funny, enjoyable watch at the beginning, it develops into something a lot more cathartic, but in fantastic style, and that’s why 50 First Dates gets a 7.9 from me.