50 First Dates (2004)

(On DVD, March 2008) This film never fully resolves the awful situation that powers its laugh generator (a woman without long-term memory), but at least it acknowledges it, by dialog (“She’s got brain damage!”), by a creepy sequence of existential horror in which every day is reset, and by an ending that doesn’t shy away from what’s been set up thus far. It’s a surprising film, and not only thanks to the usual brand of secondary characters that seem to cluster around Adam Sandler in whatever movies he headlines. There’s a steady slide from familiar to unfamiliar territory here, and it’s just as intriguing as it’s not entirely comfortable. There’s some rich material peeking through from time to time, whether it’s about the male protagonist’s chosen inability to form attachment, to the female heroine’s literal inability to do so. That it’s one of Adam Sandler’s least irritating film isn’t saying much, especially since there are a number of substantially grosser (and weaker) moments to act as distraction from the rest of the film. However intriguing 50 First Dates is, it never completely succeeds. There’s a fairly significant problem at the root of it, and like the Caribbean music used to score a film set in Hawaii, it never fits together even if it manages to become harmless.

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