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Adam Sandler movies are like olives—you'll either like them or completely loathe them. Odd how this strategy works, but it quite often proves correct with actors like himself. In this big screen blockbuster, Adam teams up with the always-lovely Drew Barrymore, but can the sparks fly in this mushy romantic comedy?

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Movie
Henry Roth (Adam Sandler) is not your typical kind of guy. Maybe the fact that he’s stuck on the tranquil island of Hawaii working day after day in a petting zoo has sent him crazy, but he certainly isn’t your average Joe.  His usual routine for the attractive visiting tourist would be to spend a few days romancing them and when opportunity sees fit, offload a different excuse to them. He might say he’s a secret agent or he may just run away, but one thing remains certain, they never see him again.

That’s because he’s afraid of commitment (what guy isn’t at some stage?) but there is some kind of delusional light at the end of the tunnel to this story. Enter Lucy Whitmore (Drew Barrymore). Being unable to remember events of the previous twenty four hours of every day might be a royal pain in the arse, but for Henry Roth it proves all too a conspicuous opportunity to snub. With Lucy being a local resident after all, and her inability to commit to any long-term relationship (for the obvious fact that she has short-term memory loss) Roth snatches his chance for love and maybe the commitment he always feared.

It may seem somewhat distasteful, and maybe in part it is, but the writers really knew how to drive this concept forward. It’s often hilarious watching Sandler constantly find new ways of making Lucy fall in love with him, and every way elicits painful laughs (an incident with a baseball bat might just go down as one of the funniest scenes this year). But it’s all Popsicle fun you can really lap up. The first twenty minutes seem to suffer from flabby direction but as the momentum builds, so too does the sincerity of its premise.

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In fact, the whole film snowballs from this seemingly drab movie into what I can only describe as being a delightfully whimsical adventure of love and spirit. It’s a rather odd transition; it almost seems like somebody else directed the first quarter. In a turn of greatness, this film also sports two notable performances other than the two leads. Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings) and Dan Akroyd (Ghostbusters) lend 50 First Dates even more comedy than it probably deserves. Astin plays a typically crazy teen with a body building problem, and Akroyd creates the laughably cheesy doctor he was seemingly born to play.

Through its obvious nature, 50 First Dates really isn't anything new or exciting, nor does it venture into shrouded territory for its respective genre. To be honest, there's no real reason to go out of your way and see it if you've already seen the typical romantic comedy. It's also surprisingly tame for a Sandler movie and wouldn’t be the first film of this sort to emphasise a tamer perspective for its lead. Jim Carey's recent Bruce Almighty was another example of a film that didn't truly give his fans what they really expected to see.

Maybe Sandler is just growing mature in his ageing years, or maybe he just really liked the script. Who cares? At the end of the day this film, while flawed and fuelled by nothing other than pure formula, is still an enjoyable romp that'll load on the laughs and crank up the charm. In saying this then, is it really worth watching? Go on, why not...so long as the beer comes free.

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Video
Presented in the always great 2.35:1 aspect, 50 First Dates has a surprisingly good transfer. I say surprising because I really didn’t know what to expect of this film. Comedies are almost always filmed in Academy Flat (1.85:1) after all, so the bonus of a wider image was a good one.

In this film you can expect lots of vivid colours, in part due to the location shoots of the movie. Gorgeous blue seas, green palms and what tropical film would be complete without epic sunset imagery? It’s all here and all in mighty fine detail.

Black levels are strong here and the colour definition is very impressive. The film needed it to be honest, for it to look at least half-decent, and especially considering how much colour the film entails.

Audio
Is it my imagination or are DTS-only DVD’s becoming less widespread? Regardless, it is my opinion that the real differences between both studios are getting more slender by the day, but it’s always nice to have both options on there. Sadly 50 First Dates doesn’t have that option but it does have a great Dolby track for you to eat into. The centre channel pumps out some seriously juicy dialogue titbits, remaining crisp and sturdy throughout the whole film. Music is also handled well, disclosing just enough clarity to make for an engaging listen. LFE and surround speakers are not used to their fullest ability, but then again the film doesn’t really call for it.

Extras
Can I just say that while the features on this disc are not entirely bad, the menus are. They are just plain boring and bland and the music loop will really drive you nuts it you have it on for too long.

Onwards we go. First up we have a commentary featuring Drew Barrymore and the man behind the camera himself, director Peter Segal. My only gripe with this commentary would be that it lacks any input from Adam Sandler. Being his movie after all, it would have been a better listening experience had he been apart of the team. It’s still a fair bit of fun though and with Barrymore being a talented filmmaker herself, she really unloads a good deal of constructive information.

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The ‘Deleted Scenes’ come with optional audio commentary but sadly, and as with most deleted scene features, not much entertainment can be had here. I always appreciate the fact that they offer them to us, but I’ve only ever really sat through maybe five DVD’s with decent deleted footage on them. Maybe it’s just me, but I never really find much joy in watching footage that was cut out a film. They are certainly not my number one choice for special features anyway. To each his own.

The ‘Featurettes’ opens up another menu with the following hidden within, ‘The Dating Scene’, ‘Talkin’ Pidgin’ and ‘Reel Comedy’. The first is a twenty-minute feature about the generic aspects of production. It’s actually a very good feature overall, it certainly had me hooked from beginning to end. The second is a feature all about the unique slang of Hawaii. And lastly the third is (you guessed it) a comedy reel. Other than highlighting some of the funnier bits of the movie and interviewing some of the cast in a laid back fashion, it doesn’t really break new ground. It’s still worth watching though.

The ‘Blooper Reel’ feature is very self-explanatory and as you can imagine, it’s all things vulgar. Like most of the features on the disc, it’s generic but somehow very addictive.

‘Sandler’s New Album’ is a short and confusing trailer for some up-and-coming project he is working on. The trailer gives a link to a website but I think I’ll pass on doing any further research into what exactly this project is. Indeed, I didn’t really take to what I saw in this trailer sadly, nor did it impress me.

Lastly, there are three music videos and a not so enthralling filmographies feature. The music videos are thus; ‘Hold me now’ by Wayne Wonder, ‘Amber’ by 311 and ‘Love Song’ by 311.

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Overall
Sandler’s latest certainly isn’t his greatest, but still a thoroughly entertaining flick all the same. Drew Barrymore is always great and I am glad the filmmakers gave her ample screen time. It really feels like this film belongs to the both of them, and not just to the higher-paid Sandler himself. It is mildly gross-out, it’s often hilarious, but it’s also surprisingly touching. It might not break new ground, but then again it’s entertaining enough to recommend to just about anyone.

The sound on the disc is good, with special commendations going to the video transfer over any other aspect. Feature-wise this disc might not be packed to the bones, but what you get here is a fine selection of fun and almost addictive features to slurp up. In all, this is a good little DVD from Columbia.


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