The best thing about 50 First Dates is that
it was filmed mainly on O‘ahu’s windward side.
It tells the story of Lucy (Barrymore), a local girl who’s
forced to live the same day over and over again after a car
accident, one year earlier, left her with short-term memory
loss. Sandler plays Henry, an oceanographer who only dates
tourists, which allows him to avoid long-term commitment.
Henry’s life changes when he meets Lucy at a local diner.
Hitting it off, Henry arranges to meet with Lucy for breakfast
the following day, only to discover that she does not remember
him the next morning. Henry is informed, by Lucy’s family
and friends, about her condition, and he sets out on a series
of humorous attempts to become a part of Lucy’s life.
Although Sandler and Barrymore work well together and have
a strong presence on screen, it was not enough to save 50
Dates, which is weighed down by bad dialogue, horrible acting,
and local stereotypes.
The movie also stars Sean Astin as Lucy’s steroid-using
brother Doug. Where his successful performance in the role of
Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy helped garner
that film’s accolades, Astin’s poor performance here
adds to the downside of Dates.
The most controversial role in the film was that of Ula, played
by Rob Schneider, a common face in many of Sandler’s films.
Ula is a local man, a slacker type who smokes pot and is burdened
with an unhappy marriage (to an over-weight woman named Mumu)
and five rambunctious children. This isn’t the first time
Hollywood has stereotyped Hawaiians in movies. The 2002 surf
film Blue Crush portrayed Hawaiians as slacker beach bums who
are territorial and aggressive towards mainlanders. So far, the
local reaction to Schneider’s portrayal has received mixed
It bothers me that Hawaiians are never portrayed as serious characters
in film,” said one moviegoer. “For once I’d
like to see a local character who isn’t on the beach or
covered in tattoos.”
Despite negative reviews, 50 First Dates, which premiered on
Valentine’s Day weekend, took the number-one spot in theaters
two weeks in a row. The film has done well locally and has become
a popular date movie. Although the dialog felt rushed, Sandler
and Barrymore did good jobs.