Wednesday, February 19, 2014

39. 50 First Dates (2004)

Code-name: 10 sec Tom

Director: Peter Segal
Writer: George Wing (also wrote for the film "Outsourced" and the short-lived TV series based on the movie... cancelled way too soon, in my opinion)
Type: Rom-Com, Drama

Henry Roth- Adam Sandler
Lucy Whitmore- Drew Barrymore
Lucy's dad- Blake Clark
Lucy's brother, Doug- Sean Astin
Ula- Rob Schneider ("he's a stapler!")
Alexa-Lusia Strus
Sue- Anna Hill
Nick- Pomaika'i Brown
Dr. Keats- Dan Aykyrod
Honorable Mention
Ten-Second-Tom- Allen Covert


[In case you missed it, the Rob Schneider thing was a "South Park" reference where the running joke was that he played all kinds of outlandish things throughout his career]

Let's get one thing straight off the bat:
I became a fan of Adam Sandler's because one of my best friends was a fan of his. In fact, in 7th grade when we had a project where we were portraying celebrities and interviewing each other, he picked Adam Sandler.
Dating myself a little bit, other celebrities chosen included Chris Farley (a reference I didn't get until I was in high school) and *NSYNC. The third "musketeer" in our group played Jim Carrey. I was Tara Lipniski :-P too bad those were days before the high-speed internet and singers like Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga cuz I woulda done so much better.
[Even more shameless self-promotion, here's an entry I wrote on another of my blogs about the Olympics figure skating: at least my love for the sport hasn't changed in all these years]

But back to Adam Sandler. In high school study hall, we sometimes watched movies and the most frequently played were "Tommy Boy" and "Billy Madison"... two guilty pleasures of mine as a result, although I feel a little more guilty about "Billy Madison" and "Happy Gilmore."
Nowadays, I gotta say I find Adam Sandler to be grossly overrated. I have no idea how he's still getting work because his movies flap and his characters are almost all the same... they're idiots. But the younger generations still think he's the cat's meow so he still wins People's, Kid's and Teen's Choice awards.

However, he has two stand-outs in my book. The previous one was "Spanglish" where he played a good straight role for a chance. And there's "50 first dates," which will go down as one of my favorite romantic comedies ever.
In part because his character grows and matures throughout the picture, a character arc we rarely see from him. But mostly because I love Drew Barrymore. She's one of those actresses that are just easy to be around because she plays such good-hearted, sweet characters. "Never Been Kissed" would have been in this 101-part conversation if it was still fresh in my mind, but that'll have its day when I discuss movie roles I relate to on a personal level.

When I first picked up this movie at Blockbuster (dating myself again, lol), I knew only two things about it: the two starring roles and the premise.
As the result of a major car accident, Lucy (Drew Barrymore) has a medical condition that erases her short-term memory when she sleeps. And Henry (Adam Sandler) used to be a guy who had relationship commitment issues until he fell head over heels for her. So he's left with no choice but to make her fall in love with him every day.

And in typical rom-com fashion, there are "complications" sprinkled throughout. You don't know until the end whether or not they will end up together, but you root for them the entire time.

That's the short version :-P
[any spoilers come from this point on...]

There's a lot to love about this movie. The lovable cast is what keeps me coming back each time as does how the storyline unfolds.

Early on, Henry learns that Lucy's father and brother act out the day of the accident every day. Including watching the Vikings-Cowboys game, giving Lucy a blank wall to paint a mural featuring elephants and lilies. having pineapple cake and watching her dad's birthday present, "The Sixth Sense"...
yeah, the comedy department went there...

Then every now and then, she has days where something happens and the illusion is broken. Sure, the registration on her car expiring is something that could have been easily avoided, but for the plot to work, Henry needed to see one of her meltdowns so he can come through with a solution: making a video telling her what happened in the past year and explains the accident

There's a good mix of comedy thrown in with the drama. Most of it comes from Rob Schneider's character. In a word, he's just "inappropriate," but still fun to watch each time. The running gag early on is that he keeps opening his stitches, which he needed after a shark bit him while surfing... but the funniest scene with him is where one of Henry's plans to meet with Lucy on the side of the road (after he's "banished" from the café) goes terribly array. The scenario is that Ulla (Rob Schneider) is beating him up and Henry's hoping Lucy will pull over to help him... little did either of them know she was packing heat with a baseball bat :-P
Then in Lucy's family, the comic relief comes from her brother, played by former hobbit, Sean Astin. Throughout, the running joke is that he should stop taking steroids because he's way too into his body.
He's the reason why "enough with the tittie dance" is in my vocabulary whenever some dude in a movie jiggles their man boobs as if it's meant to impress people :shrug: I can't get it, honestly.

But in general, all the characters are good-hearted people. Even Henry, who starts out as a bit of a player unable to go past one-night stands, has his moments where he goes up and beyond for Lucy. That's why her father and brother are skeptical at first, doubting his intentions, but he wins them over.
That isn't to say he doesn't have some awkward moments. Every Adam Sandler movie does. He bets Nick at the café that he can get Lucy to have breakfast with him again. His first few tries crash and burn until he makes a ruckus, saying he can't read the memo. Like he really makes a scene and unfortunately, he's one of those actors who know how to milk those scenes beyond the point of awkwardness.

Aside from her condition, Lucy's greatest quality is selflessness. She wants to be there for other people and help them. At the same time, she doesn't want to be a burden to people that she loves, explaining some of the gut-wrenching choices she makes later in the film.
We get our happy ending, obviously, and it does seem a little forced, but the pay-off is so sweet you could care less.

This film has a decent soundtrack, most of which are popular songs remixed to sound Hawaiian. Everything from "Over the Rainbow" to "Friday I'm in Love" by The Cure. For me, it's the movie I always associate with the Beach Boys song "Wouldn't it be nice?" because it's used throughout the movie. Not to mention one of the jokes is that Lucy sings it on the days she sees Henry and she's terribly out of key.
(Acting on Drew Barrymore's part, obviously, because she sounds amazing on "Olive the Other Reindeer" :-P)

Something else worth noting is that it's not every day the main character is a marine biologist. Henry's current gig is veterinarian at the Sea Life Park, but his dream is to study underwater walrus behavior in Alaska. Not sure how he'll make a living off that, but it's cool to see, speaking as a marine biology major.
The animal stars of the movie include Willy the penguin (Henry used him in one of his missed opportunities with Lucy on the side of the road... let's just say he almost ended up as penguin road-kill, but seeing them try to put that scene together in the blooper reel is worth a couple laughs) and Jacko the walrus, who was involved in a range of scenes... one being an unnecessary gross-out scene, all because his assistant Alexa ate his sandwich and another where he tries to use him to convince Lucy to "take their relationship to the next level"

Alexa's one of the most memorable characters because she's the most confusing. She's played by a woman, so we assume she's a woman, but she has this androgynous look going for her that the other characters don't even know whether she's male or female.

Last but not least, there's a member of the Callahan Brian Institute who needs no introduction... ok, maybe he does :-P
"Ten-second Tom" suffered a traumatic hunting injury and because of that, his memory only lasts 10 seconds. So we see him several times at the Institute and he's introducing himself "Hey, I'm Tom"
I know, mental health isn't a joke, but it's definitely one of those things you take away from this movie.

Coming Next Week:
Girl Power based on a true story in the form of Animation

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