I have grown to loathe the harshness and trauma that characters must survive in so many stories told in movies and television these days. While there are some exceptions, I prefer to skip the emotional roller coaster of drama as I have enough heartache and worry in my own life without dealing with someone else’s pain. Thus, it is no big surprise to the reader of this review that I am most definitely a sucker for romantic comedies. I am the audience that the makers of everything from “When Harry Met Sally” to “13 Going on 30” salivate over when contemplating the Next Big Movie.
You must login to vote
The movie theater experience is not as fun as it used to be (see my Rant entitled “Movie Manners”) and to quench our thirst for escapism and entertainment, my husband and I have turned to that most excellent of all delivery services, NetFlix. This review may seem a bit dated, but if you are like me and avoid the movie theater in exchange for the comfort of your living room, then this just may be relevant as you choose what movie to watch for cuddling with your sweetie on the couch.
“50 First Dates”, starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, is a romantic tale of the sacrifices we make for the ones we love. Set in Hawaii, the comedy revolves around the fateful romance of a womanizer afraid of commitment who meets and later falls in love with the perfect woman, i.e. one who won’t remember him the next day. Drew Barrymore plays the beautiful Lucy whose short-term memory loss makes it impossible for her to remember anything following the accident that caused her disability. Adam Sandler is Henry, the womanizing veterinarian that spends his nights showing the female tourists a good time in an effort to avoid a serious relationship.
Henry and Lucy meet in a small diner and, finding an instant connection, the two decide to meet for breakfast the following morning. When Henry shows up for their first breakfast date, Lucy doesn’t recognize him. Confused and hurt, he finally discovers that a car accident the year before left Lucy without the ability to create new memories. In Lucy’s mind, every day is the day of the accident because she wakes up every morning with no memory of the day before.
In an effort to protect her, Lucy’s father and brother go to great lengths to hide the passage of time from her by creating the illusion that every day is the last day that she can remember. It’s touching to see the effort they exert in deceiving Lucy for what they believe is her own good. They spend hours painting the same wall; they work tirelessly to cook the same meal each night; and they watch the same movie with her every night. They love her so much that they are willing to sacrifice their own lives to maintain her happiness.
Henry is irresistibly drawn to Lucy’s world where everyday is Sunday, October 13th. Following her routine, he starts showing up everyday at the diner where they first met in an effort to get to know her. He tries pick-up lines, he fakes car trouble, and he even pretends to be illiterate just so she’ll talk to him.
Finally, she is confronted with the reality of her affliction, the amount of time that passed unnoticed by her, and the prospects of a future without a memory. Her father, brother, and Henry explain to her the steps they take each day to protect her and that, unfortunately, this isn’t the first time they have explained all of this to her. She just doesn’t remember finding out before. It’s pitiful and heartbreaking to watch her arrive at the inevitable conclusion that she can never have a normal life.
Henry decides that something must be done or one day Lucy will wake up and realize that she’s aged ten years overnight. We get to see the lengths he goes to each day to remind Lucy of what happened to her in the accident, what’s happened in the time that’s passed since then, and to convince her to fall in love with him all over again.
The wonderful thing about all romantic comedies, especially this one, is that the character and plot development that occur through heartache or trauma in the story are all punctuated with laugh-out-loud humor that makes it all seem like everything will be okay. Sure it’s a silly premise. It’s a little far-fetched, of course. But, who cares? “50 First Dates” is not only a wonderful reminder of how far we’ll go to protect the ones we love, but also why we choose to make those sacrifices in the first place.