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A date with Adam and Drew

Arthur J Pais | February 14, 2004 14:10 IST

There is enough charm and plenty of romantic situations in 50 First Dates to make it a winner, despite a fractured script that demands suspension of logic over and over again.

A still from 50 First DatesWhile lead players Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler -- who made a hit pair in the better directed The Wedding Singer several years ago -- are the film's biggest draw, there is a better performer in the film: Blake Clark. He plays the gruff father of Lucy (Drew Barrymore), who suffers from short-term amnesia. He is both amusing and intimidating, especially when he wonders why young Henry Roth (Sandler) is working so hard to woo his daughter, who is suffering from short-term amnesia following an accident.

Another scene-stealer, Sean Astin, plays Barrymore's younger brother, a short muscleman addicted to steroids.

Despite the attention-grabbing coartistes, Barrymore wins over the audiences easily. There are days in the movie her
character has to be nasty and cranky, and there are days she has to be charming and sensuous.

The films shows her turning into a mature actress. If she worked with better directors and more challenging scripts, she can soon be a Hollywood icon. 

One of the several reasons why the new film directed by Peter Segal (Anger Management) ends up as a pleasing
entertainment is the reduction in the number of scatological jokes one associates with a Sandler movie.

Yet, 50 First Dates won't satisfy movie fans who have loved Bill Murray's Groundhog Day. Or have admired Memento. Those movies offered much more intrigue and substance while dealing with the memory loss theme.

The story of the new film is also about how a man learns to love a woman even though it seems impossible that she could love him back permanently. This is an arresting theme but it is mostly played for the laughs.

Henry Roth, a veterinarian at a marine park in Hawaii, seems like a man who cannot commit himself. But once he meets Lucy, his life is in for a dramatic change. The script doesn't convincingly show us the transformation in Roth. But then this is a Hollywood movie. Why bother with plot logic?

When he realises that Lucy cannot remember what happened the previous day, he begins to devise interesting situations for her to fall in love with him every day.

Her father and brother are not really pleased by Roth's efforts. They have been working hard to keep up Lucy's illusions. Each day, they have been giving her the same newspaper each day and showing the same film, The Sixth Sense. Each time she is surprised to discover that Bruce Willis is a ghost in the movie. 

At one point, Henry asks Lucy's father and brother what could happen if she gains her memory and wonders how she
has become overweight and grown up. They have no answer.

Henry continues wooing Lucy despite her unpredictable responses. There are times they hit it off, but the charm and tricks won't work on another day. In the end, the film comes out with an interesting, though not convincing, solution to the daily dilemma. 

A still from 50 First DatesIt is easy to pick holes in the script (by first timer George Wing), yet it is not easy to resist the chemistry between Lucy and Henry. Or, for that matter, the way Henry deals with Lucy's father.

But not all characters in the film are enviable. Rob Schneider as the middle-aged Hawaiian stoner offers nothing more than an irritating ethnic caricature, though some movie fans may find him amusing.

Having seen 50 First Dates with a near hysterical audience in New York, I would not be surprised if the movie, which
is already No 1 in the country, turns out to be one of the biggest hits of the season.

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