Case Study #18
Where we explore the more
obscure movies that bombed
A rare case of mediocrity
paying off big time
Drew Barrymore is a fine but rather tepid actress that has given decent performances throughout her long career.
Adam Sandler is sorta funny sometimes, but he's usually been a one-act kind of a show. Angry man. You know what I mean.
But 50 First Dates put these two together and the chemistry is unbelievably good. And best of all? Sandler isn't his usual obnoxious self.
And for me, I need for there to be real chemistry. Nothing shuts down a romantic comedy faster than stars that don't spark. Cough, cough, I'm looking at you Knight and Day.
50 First Dates is decently thought-out, very funny at times and kinda sweet. It explores a rare type of head trauma that causes short-term memory loss - and it does this without being offensive.
I will tell you up front that the kind of brain injury Barrymore's character has is very real and well documented...but also very rare. Ten-Second Tom is real as well. More on that in a moment.
50 First Dates was released in 2004, and did well at the box office, but critics didn't like it. It was mostly forgotten after that.
Adam Sandler's style of comedy got old, for me at least, around 1999. This was the Happy Gilmore/Big Daddy/Waterboy era.
Sandler's first film with Barrymore - The Wedding Singer - was a huge success off of a tiny budget, so maybe Barrymore brings out the best in him.
50 First Dates opens with Adam Sandler as Henry Roth, a veterinarian at a Sea World-like park in Hawaii.
It's established early on that he tricks women into sleeping with him by only targeting females on vacation - always pretending he's someone else.
Roth's big dream is to restore a piece of crap sailboat and head out for Alaska, leaving his troubles behind.
So, basically Roth is a douche that has never been in a long-term relationship...until he meets Drew Barrymore - as Lucy Whitmore - over breakfast at a local restaurant.
Roth falls for Lucy, and goes back the following day to see her again at the restaurant. But she doesn't remember him at all.
We learn through the restaurant owner - Sue (Amy Hill) - that Lucy was in car accident and suffered a head injury that only allows her to remember the day of her car crash. She doesn't remember the crash itself, Lucy simply wakes up each morning thinking it's still that day.
We get a series of attempts by Roth to win over Lucy each day, most ending in disaster.
We also meet Lucy's father and brother - the highlights of this movie.
Marlin Whitmore is played by Blake Clark, a veteran actor with a voice like gravel in a washing machine.
Her brother, Doug, is played by Sean Austin and easily the best performance of the film. Doug is a steriod-using half-retard with a lisp, and laugh-out-loud funny.
Lucy's doctor is played by Dan Akroyd, and through him we learn about her condition - and we meet Ten Second Tom.
This small character part shows us what happens sometimes when somebody survives a gunshot wound to the head - a neurological condition that only allows Tom to remember the last ten seconds of his life, then everything resets.
Some critics did not like the forms of amnesia portrayed in 50 First Dates, stating they were unrealistic. I can assure that, although uncommon, these conditions do exist.
As for the rest of the plot? Watch the movie for yourself, or rediscover on a stay-at-home date night. The film is not a waste of time by any means.
And the low point of 50 First Dates? The picture above? Sigh.
I believe a lot of people feel that Sandler is an unlikable protagonist.
And this, for the most part, is true. But that factor doesn't come into play in 50 First Dates.
The chemistry and playfulness between Barrymore and Sandler is very real, and overcomes a lot of issues - even Rob Schnieder.