50 First Dates pulls off a neat little trick. The opening 20 minutes are filled with familiar Adam Sandler movie bits (walrus puke, sexually ambiguous co-worker, a horny and ethnic Rob Schneider) that even he seems tired of but knows need to be there for his core audience. In a pleasant surprise, the movie manages to disengage from its autopilot setting once the film's high concept kicks in. The Memento-meets-Groundhog Day conceit is actually thought out by first-time screenwriter George Wing. The film actually takes the time to figure out how Drew Barrymore's inability to make new memories affects those who love her most, and manages to find complications and solutions that are logical and thematically resonant. Director Peter Segal and Sandler, recognizing that they have been given a charming love story, are confident enough to back away from the more pedestrian moments of outlandishness that open the film. Sandler and Barrymore made a winning duo in The Wedding Singer. That film marked the first time Sandler tried to take his film persona in a new direction -- something he attempted more boldly in Paul Thomas Anderson's underappreciated Punch-Drunk Love. Sandler obviously learned from his experience on Punch-Drunk Love how his infantile screen persona can be allowed to grow up. With 50 First Dates, he has taken the lessons from that film, and packaged them in a way that his audience can accept.
by Perry Seibert review