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50 First Dates

Well, in recent years, how many movies have their been about memory loss?…Well, if my memory serves me-and it seldom does-there have been many. Why? Well, it’s something we all suffer from in varying degrees, memory loss, or failure to access things in our memory increases with age and other conditions, so all of us can identify with it, making it a bottomless source of possibilities for fiction. And this reviewer is attracted to stories about it because I have particular problems with memory loss. I’ve even spoken about it with my doctor, as I recall, but don’t ask me what his response was. Now am I making fun of people with memory loss-not at all, just having fun with it.

The latest film on the subject is 50 FIRST DATES, starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. In this one, Sandler is Henry, a veterinarian at a Sea World-type place in Hawaii, well known among the locals for making a play for the hot singles who come to Hawaii, making sure they have a great time, but always posing as some sort of a spy on a secret mission. This gives him a good reason to dump them just before they go back home from their vacation. Works great, til he meets a local beauty (Drew Barrymoore, of course) in a restaurant, and falls in love. And when they make a date to meet their again, she doesn’t know him and tells him to get lost. The folks who work in the restaurant see her every day, and explain to him that she was injured in a wreck and lost her short term memory. So each day, she gets up and relives the same day (shades of Groundhog Day, but let’s make it clear that this film is not in the same league as that one) To make it more interesting, writer George Wing has made that particular day her Father’s birthday. So each day she makes him a birthday cake and sings him a song, and he and her brother try to keep the fantasy alive by playing a tape of the same football game they were watching that day (the serious part), while her bratty brother makes small bets with her on the outcome of the game (the attempt at humor at her expense part).

Their protection extends, of course, to chasing away any guy who shows an interest in her, lest he take some advantage. Then they run into Henry, who seems like a good guy, interested in helping her overcome this unique handicap by making videos of them together that she can watch each morning to trip her memory.

With a detour or three, we’re headed for a happy ending here. I don’t remember their being any question about that. But this is an Adam Sandler movie (with Rob Schneider as Ula, his Hawaiian sidekick), so expect some of the juvenile humour he has in all of his films. And a few characters included only for the sake of gratuitous bad taste. But somewhere in here is a touching story about love overcoming the odds, through creativity and understanding. Dan Aykroyd is added as her doctor to give it some class. 50 FIRST DATES, starring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler is now showing, I’m almost certain, at Showplace West in Bloomington, and reviewing the movies for WFIU, Joe Bourne.

Peter Noble Kuchera

Originally from Columbus, Indiana, Peter moved to Bloomington in 1998. He completed four years of film study at the University of Minnesota and two years of film production in the Film Cities in St. Paul. He began reviewing movies for WFIU in 2003 and began producing on-air fundraising spots for WTIU in 2006. In 2008 he received a second place award for Best Radio Critic at the Los Angeles Press Club’s First Annual National Entertainment Journalism Awards in 2008. Peter passed away suddenly on June 8, 2009.

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