February 17, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 76  

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50 First Dates sinks Sandler

50 First Dates
Starring: Drew Barrymore, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider
Directed by: Peter Segal

By Peter MacEwen
Gazette Writer

Columbia TriStar/2004
“HEY BABY, HOW YOU DOIN’?” Adam Sandler tries hard to make a good first impression... again and again and again.

Let’s face it — who doesn’t love Adam Sandler? When it comes to comedic entertainment, he’s as reliable as your grandma’s home cookin’.

That’s why audiences will flock to see 50 First Dates, but in Sandler’s new film, they won’t see the childish star of Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore. It’s a sad day for Sandler fans because he’s grown up.

Although 50 First Dates also stars comedic sidekick and former Saturday Night Live co-star Schneider as well as the not-so-comedic Barrymore, the real star is undoubtedly Jocko the Walrus. Compared to the rest of the cast, Jocko’s performance is no less than Oscar-worthy. And with the addition of Willie the Penguin, the animals really do steal the show.

The story follows marine veterinarian Henry Roth (Sandler), who chases the affection of fellow Hawaiian Lucy Whitmore (Barrymore). The catch is that Henry’s romantic exploits start anew each day because Lucy’s memory only lasts as long as she’s awake.

Henry is extremely persistent and finds creative ways to make the relationship work. Once again, Sandler’s boyish charm and innocent sense of humour (ironically reminiscent of The Wedding Singer) wins over the woman he loves but, unfortunately, not the audience.

The movie is divided into two parts: the first is slow and boring introducing the conflict, while the second tries be romantic but really only manages to be sad. Sensitive members of the audience may shed a tear because whether or not it really exists, 24-hour amnesia is a very depressing illness.

The briefly sad moments from Mr. Deeds pale in comparison to the wretched misery of this illness. No worries — Jocko the Walrus tends to reappear at the most opportune moments and re-ignites the film’s comic element. Isn’t it pathetic that a Sandler movie relies on a walrus for laughs? Schneider’s pothead Hawaiian native character Ula doesn’t even lift spirits; he is sickeningly typical.

But wait. There is more reason to see this movie other than to merely combat a prolonged bout with happiness. Sean Astin, recognizable from Rudy and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, has a surprisingly goofy role as Doug Whitmore, Lucy’s juiced-up body-building brother with an inferiority complex.

Another reason to see 50 First Dates is Barrymore’s breasts. Though there is no clear view of them, a rain-soaked white T-shirt scene is definitely worth the cost of admission.

Audiences may not appreciate the film’s sappy plotline or below-average performances, but there are signs of hope. There are some touching moments and proof of some dramatic worthiness.

Bottom line, Disney could very well have produced this film, which goes to show where Sandler’s career is headed. 50 First Dates is a true disappointment for the audience, so here’s to hoping Sandler’s next film is as immature as his successful ventures.



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