DIRECTED BY PETER SEGAL
STARRING: DREW BARRYMORE, ADAM SANDLER, BLAKE CLARK, SEAN ASTIN, DAN AYKROYD and ROB SCHNEIDER
The premise is unreal, I’m told. There is no illness as this, something depicted to be a curious spot on the spectrum of anterograde amnesia. Sure enough, the situation is hard to fathom, perhaps laughably so – but it is clearly defined, nevertheless. The woman can’t distinguish today from yesterday; yesterday from the day before. Tomorrow would be no different, once she’s done living it. The father worries like any father should but trusts like a man, and the man in question has an expansive road ahead of him. The brother is for comic relief – a blotchy reminder that we’re still in Hollywood land. The starting point is clear, and the definitive factor for '50 First Dates' to work as a film would be down to a choice between making the two ends meet and letting them run parallel till their inks dry out. And there’d always be the question of ‘how?’
It’s needless to say that anyone can conceive the basic plotline of ’50 First Dates’. What would help distinguish prowess from prude is an acceptable end, not to mention a convincing route.
Now, I’m not going to lie about this – I liked the film more for what it could have been than just for the film it was, but I did like it for that reason as well. For one, I found the Hawaiian setup to be more convenient than convincing, the Walrus-trainer to be apt in patience, what with the remotest scope of an alter-ego neatly siphoned off. Lucy (Drew Barrymore) is no ‘sheep in a big city’ – she’s almost queen of the town, a wink-back at ‘the Truman Show’ and the then-yet-to-come ‘Lars and the Real Girl’, both featuring subtle discretion and cooperation from places frequented, if not the entire township. The ‘What if?’s are talked about, if not entirely ascertained and accounted for – the more sinister ones are better left untouched, for the Father doesn’t look like one to cross and our Hero himself is written out to have a heart and a head than just a working wiener. And as stated, his employment reflects on mental-makeup, the casting is appropriate and all that Adam Sandler has to do is read his lines out in an underplay, on the edge of emotion. Which he does fairly well.
But then, has the world come across an illness with such intricate functioning of the mind except for a tiny blot? Leonard Shelby remembers part of his trauma (or what he’s conceived to be so) in ‘Memento’, which in itself was overly fictionalized. And Lucy’s painting here is found flawless but with a hole. Can one forgive Hollywood for that, especially after this specific isolation of cause? For on the one hand, while we take a heavy blow as far as believability is concerned, we do find our tongues in our cheeks as the writer comes out in a confident tone with a happier happy ending than you’d ever conceive.
So yet again, it’s the package deal – while you get a good chunk of meat thrown in, you still get the irksome little bones, making it harder to chew on. ‘the Last First Kiss’ could have brought the ‘Nicholas Sparks’ out of the film and ‘the Last Kiss’ would have busted a further insubstantial Zach Braff. But titling it '50 First Dates' serves to be an unfair blemish to serious conception. Perhaps we could have gone even lesser on Sandlerification, but then that’s another story: A 51st date, perhaps.