50 First Dates | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

50 First Dates

Meet Cute, Repeat

It's not a good sign when your own star vehicle has to open with an extended sequence of people exclaiming how awesome you are -- in this case, an assortment of tourists who swoon over their holiday fling in Hawaii with one Henry Roth (Adam Sandler). Let's be honest: Sandler is not most people's idea of a dream date. Sure, we could overlook his egg-shaped head with its patented blank snarkiness, but after a decade of films, we're all beyond falling for the pudding-filled naughty little boys that he portrays. And despite Sandler's interesting darker turn two years ago in Paul Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love, the mewling man-child is back, reunited with his Anger Management director, Peter Segal, in another silly romance.


Henry is a veterinarian at a Hawaiian marine attraction, where his job is pimping the walrus and deflecting the amorous intentions of his androgynous assistant. (She is one of many physical freaks that Sandler surrounds himself with in this film, presumably to heighten his own desirability.) Away from the office, he loves-and-leaves tourists. This idyllic existence is shattered when he falls for a local girl, Lucy (Drew Barrymore). Lucy has suffered a brain injury affecting her short-term memory that condemns her to wake up over and over again on the same day in Punxsatawney ... no wait, that was Groundhog Day. Waking up every day in a beach house in Hawaii with no memory of yesterday's crap sounds like a good thing, but -- as the film spends over an hour patiently explaining -- it makes maintaining a long-term relationship problematic.


So Henry undertakes various schemes to cement himself in Lucy's affections, often aided by his best bud, layabout Ula (Rob Schneider). And beyond the juvenile body-fluid jokes, his wooing of Lucy is rather sweet -- that is, with a serious leap in logic that a serial use-'em-and-lose-'em jerk would devote all to winning the heart of a girl who is missing a big chunk of her head.


Barrymore is her usual cute self -- you're either charmed by this or not. Sean Astin does a fair comic turn as her steroid-addled brother, though Segal should note that it's funnier to show demented behavior than to talk endlessly about it. Mostly, the film goes for the easy humor: animals that "talk"(what is this -- a dog-food commercial?), old people swearing, repeated jokes about the male genitalia, and too-cute kids performing in unison. Also, in a perfect world, Rob Schneider -- who appears to be carving out a niche in sophomoric comedies as the go-to guy for near-nudity -- would never work again, but then you may dig the scene where Barrymore beats his ass, but good. Two cameras

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