I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love the movies of Happy Madison, Sandler’s production company. It’s pretty much always the same deal: Sandler’s a quirky (slacker/golf player/waterboy/ aquarium veterinarian) who sometimes yells a lot and gets aggressive (beating up a giant penguin/ beating up Bob Barker/beating up football players/slapping his androgynous assistant with a fish), but for the most part he’s a gentle soul and through the course of the movie, he hooks up with a hottie (teacher/p.r. woman/goth chick/art teacher) who’ll inspire him to (win back his father’s company/win back his grandma’s house/win the championship/realize his dream of studying the underwater habits of walruses).
The twist this time is that since being in a car accident, the lovable Miss Lucy suffers from short-term memory loss, meaning that every time she goes to bed she forgets everything that happened that day so Sandler has to make her fall in love with him all over again. This storytelling gimmick is a little Memento and a little “Clean Slate”, but mostly it reminds of the brilliant Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray also struggled to seduce the woman he loved day after day.
The most contrived part of the premise is that the people around Lucy have somehow been able to make her believe that nothing’s happened, pretending that this is always that day a year ago before she lost her memory. Some of the dialogue is inane, too, and the filmmakers don’t always seem to know where to go with the story, yet as bumpy as the screenplay is the movie still manages to make us care for the characters. This probably has to do with the wonderful chemistry Drew Barrymore and the Sandler still share, 6 years after The Wedding Singer.
Like all Happy Madison flicks, this one also benefits from a hilarious supporting cast, particularly Rob Schneider’s shaggy Hula, Sean Astin’s bodybuilder with a lisp and Sandler’s cooler-than-cool-ICE-COLD! walrus sidekick. “50 First Dates” is not in the same ballpark as Punch-Drunk Love, bright and colorful Hawaii locations or not, but it’s a nice little romantic comedy nonetheless.