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(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was for an imaginary dream dictionary using one or more of some suggested terms. So I used them all, with only the last stanza tying into the movie.)


If you dream of a teacup,
It means that you thirst
For something that’s fragile and needs to be nursed.

If you dream of a hammer,
It means you deplore
Nails, or maybe you want to be Thor.

If you dream of a seagull,
It means that you wish
To swoop over beaches and swallow some fish.

If you dream of a slipper
For ballet, it means
You want to perform in some graceful routines.

If you dream of a shark,
It means you should swim
Or else you may well end up inside of him.

If you dream of a dentist,
It indicates dread.
You shouldn’t watch Marathon Man close to bed.

If you dream of a table
That’s wobbly, I’d peg
You as someone unstable and needing a leg.

If you dream of a rowboat,
It means or it shows
You’re rowing, I guess? Oh, come on, who knows?

If you dream of a stranger
You love, then it means
It might be the face of the love of your dreams.

MPAA rating: PG-13 (for much sexual humor)

It’s rare that a movie morphs from something I actively dislike to something I love. Of course, it’s always better when it goes in that order (rather than going from love to hate), but such movies with a split personality are a weird achievement. I’m not familiar with most of Adam Sandler’s movies since what little I’ve seen has convinced me they’re not my preferred humor, but 50 First Dates elevates his usual crassness with a romantic story that left me genuinely smiling by the end.

Sandler plays Henry Roth, a veterinarian at a Hawaiian marine park, whose favorite pastime is a constant stream of one-night stands with visiting tourists. Then one day, he meets a girl named Lucy (Drew Barrymore) at a diner and hits it off, charming her and agreeing to meet there again the next day. When he does, she acts like they’ve never met, and he learns from her friends and family that she was in a car accident and now suffers from short-term memory loss, forgetting everything from the previous day when she falls asleep. Perhaps intrigued by the prospect of wooing a human Dory, Henry endeavors to make her fall in love with him day after day, not always with success but with an ever-growing desire to form a lasting relationship against all odds.

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I suppose I’m reminded of Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom, which started out garish and strange yet became more and more romantic and endearing as it went. Likewise, 50 First Dates possesses plenty of crude sexual metaphors and a vomiting walrus, mainly in the first half, but then comes a moment when the true weight of Lucy’s condition becomes clear, and the vulgar comedy takes a backseat. In his efforts to win Lucy’s heart repeatedly, Henry displays rare selflessness and commitment, and the ways he tries to give Lucy a life beyond a constant repeat are increasingly sweet and gratifying, especially in the final scene.

It isn’t easy for me to view Sandler in a leading-man romantic role, but 50 First Dates proves his ability in that regard, if only he’d dispense with the phallic jokes. I did still laugh, and he and Barrymore had strong chemistry (though I still see her more with Hugh Grant, thanks to Music and Lyrics), so I see why this is reportedly one of their favorite films together. I’m curious now to see their previous collaboration in The Wedding Singer, which I’ve heard is one of Sandler’s best films.

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As far as the supporting actors, Henry’s stoner friend Ula (Rob Schneider) was a little annoying, but I did appreciate the unexpected appearance of Sean Astin as Lucy’s steroid-obsessed brother with a lisp and Dan Aykroyd as her doctor. Ultimately, 50 First Dates is not consistent enough to be an instant rom-com favorite like You’ve Got Mail or Serendipity, but, even with its weaknesses, I can’t help but admire a film that left me as extremely satisfied as this one did.

Best line: (Ula’s caddy) “I wouldn’t surf with a bleeding wound like that. You might attract a shark or something.”
(Ula) “What’s wrong with that, cuz? Sharks are naturally peaceful.”
(Caddy) “Is that right? How’d you get that nasty cut anyway?”
(Ula) “A shark bit me.”


Rank: List Runner-Up


© 2018 S.G. Liput
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