50 First Dates tells the very silly story of Henry Roth (Adam Sandler) as he woos Lucy (Drew Barrymore), the victim of an accident in which she lost her short-term memory. Each morning Lucy wakes up and forgets the events of the preceding day. Every day Henry must convince Lucy he’s the man of her dreams, and he doesn’t always succeed. I predict this will end up being considered one of the year’s funniest movies. It balances a wonderful amount of slapstick stupidity as well as substantial, intelligent humor, and does so in an innovative and thoughtful way. 50 First Datesdifferentiates itself from other comedies in its style, ingenuity, and overall quality of storytelling, an aspect of film often neglected.
The casting is superb! The Wedding Singer’s dream team of Sandler and Barrymore not only is back but is better than I anticipated. Their chemistry is electric, and every scene with the two of them is pure gold. Rob Schneider, true to form, plays the crude and simple sidekick, expertly walking the line between funny and obnoxious, while Sean Astin – a newcomer to Sandler’s films – takes on a role dramatically different from his recent LOTR success, and impresses us all with his comedic abilities.
I admit my surprise that a film in which I spent the first half giggling madly could ultimately produce such a heartfelt story and moving final chapter. The story brilliantly balances the drama and humor so as not to weigh down the plot nor render it overly ridiculous. In the hands of other actors and filmmakers, the premise of the story can easily be transformed into a serious drama. I, however, prefer Sandler’s enjoyable, balanced approach.
To the film’s credit, it attempts no serendipitous, miraculous resolution where suddenly all the characters find the previous ninety minutes of complications spontaneously rectified. Against the obvious odds, 50 First Dates ends happily-it is, after all, a comedy-but not in the way previous films of this genre would lead you to expect.
Adam Sandler is one of today’s greatest comedic talents; not only has he yet to reach his peak, but with every film he gets better and better. Each time, he becomes more likeable and the resulting picture is more universal. Sandler has a remarkable ability to embrace his past silliness-50 First Dates boasts a fantastic reference to Happy Gilmore, one of Sandler’s early pictures-but still doesn’t shy from making films with much greater substance.
If 50 First Dates is any indicator of the kind of cinematic growth Sandler and his production teams are capable of, I can’t wait to see what’s next. A-