Forget it: 50 first dates too many
Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore had enough chemistry in The Wedding Singer that a re-teaming was inevitable in an industry where anything that works well is worked to death.
It works again in 50 First Dates, but it's more of an uphill struggle because the movie around them isn't as good. Most of the comedy is crude and unfunny and, once the romance starts gathering steam, intrusive as well.
In case you haven't seen the trailers, which reveal the premise and most of the best jokes, Sandler plays Henry Roth, a veterinarian living in Hawaii who spends his nights romancing tourists, preferably on their last night on the island so there's no chance of it leading to anything.
One day he's attracted to a local woman, Lucy (Barrymore), and sets about wooing her. The next day she doesn't remember him, and he learns from people who are looking out for her that she was in an accident a year before and has been reliving the day of the accident ever since, her short-term memory being erased each night as she sleeps.
While his friend Ula (Rob Schneider seriously attacking the role of a comical stereotype, "the state idiot of Hawaii") insists she's perfect for Henry, since he doesn't have to worry about committing to a woman who won't remember him the next day. Henry, however, falls in love with Lucy while trying to make her fall in love with him day after day.
This section of the movie is pointless, since once Henry finds a formula that works, he can just repeat it like Hollywood does; but since this is the "funny" part of the picture, he alters his approach daily, sometimes meeting with success and sometimes not.
Lucy's primary caretakers are her father (Blake Clark) and brother (Sean Astin), who take great pains to recreate last October 13 at home every day. It's hard to believe she'd never flip on a TV or glance at a newspaper other than the edition they keep recycling, but you have to accept the premise: Henry's the first new element in Lucy's life since the accident.
OK, the whole thing's hard to swallow; but the charm of the stars makes it go down easy, as does some of the gentle comedy surrounding their romance or romances, if you will, each more brief than Britney Spears' marriage.
At the other end of the spectrum is a lot of Ula's boorishness and a walrus-puke gag that sets the wrong tone early on. The butt of that joke– and many more– is a character named Alexa (Lusia Strus), whose gender and orientation are called into question by Henry.
Too much scattershot comedy, too little of it funny, renders this fundamentally sweet romance forgettable. It should be gone from your short-term memory the morning after you see it.