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50 First Dates

Sony Pictures // PG-13 // June 20, 2006
List Price: $28.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted July 11, 2006 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:


One of the Blu-Ray discs that Sony released in the initial wave of films,
50 First Dates in a romantic comedy staring Adam Snadler and Drew
Barrymore.  The pair previously stared in The Wedding Singer,
which was okay, but the films that Sandler have done since then haven't
really been my cup of tea.  Because of that, I went into this movie
not expecting too much, but was pleasantly surprised.  The film has
some good humor and a nice plot and generally works.  Too bad the
same can't be said of the Blu-ray disc itself.  While it looks good
for a SD DVD it doesn't really impress as far as HD goes.  With dull
colors and no stand-out images it's hard to tell this disc from an upconverted
regular DVD.

Henry Roth (Adam Sandler) is a vet at an aquarium in Hawaii.  Though
he loves his walruses, he loves the female tourists even more.  He
gets to play with them for a week, maybe two, and then they leave. 
He comes up with some silly reason why they can never meet again (he's
going into the priesthood, he's a spy working with the CIA, etc) and then
moves on to the next woman.

That all changes one day when he meets Lucy Whitmore (Drew Barrymore)
in a local restaurant.  She's a local girl, and he knows that he shouldn't
approach her, but he can't resist the way she's making a house out of her
waffles.  He chats her up and they hit it off.  They leave promising
to meet the next day for breakfast again.

In the morning when Lucy walks into the restaurant, Henry sits down
across from her and she freaks out.  She doesn't know who he is, and
claims never to have seen him before.  It turns out that she was in
a car accident a year ago and suffered a rare (fictional) brain disorder:
every night when she falls asleep she forgets everything that happened
that day.  She still thinks it's the previous year, and her father
(Blake Clark) and brother Doug (Sean Astin) go to great lengths to make
sure nothing will destroy that illusion.

Henry becomes intrigued with Lucy and starts to see her on a regular
basis.  He has to start from scratch of course, breaking the ice,
warming her up and getting her to spend time with him, but he doesn't seem
to mind.  It's the thrill of the chase after all, and if he ever gets
tired of her he can just stop showing up.  As the days turn into weeks
and months though, Henry finds himself falling in love with the injured
girl.  How can he possibly have a long term relationship with someone
who wakes up every morning with no idea who he is.

This romantic comedy works a lot better than I thought it would. 
Sandler isn't too wild and wacky (most of the time) and Drew Barrymore
does a great job as the girl who loses her memory every night.  The
comedy is always amusing and occasionally rises to the level of out and
out laughter.  Most of the humor comes from Henry's attempts to woo
Lucy every morning.  The scene where he gets a friend to pretend to
attack him so that Lucy will come to his aid is especially hilarious. 
There are a lot of quick little jokes that fly by too, like the fact that
Henry named the dolphins at his aquarium Mary-Kate and Ashley.

While the film works, a few of the characters don't.  While Sean
Astin does a good job as Lucy's body-building brother with a lisp, Doug,
the character doesn't seem to serve any real purpose.  The lisp is
good for cheap laughs but that's about it.  The movie would also have
been a lot stronger without Henry's androgynous Russian assistant Alexa
(Lusia Strus).  The jokes about not being able to tell if she's a
man or a woman grew old quickly and pulled it a little farther away from
reality.

A word of warning:  There is some 'guy humor' in this film that
women won't appreciate.  There's not many ladies who think that projectile
vomiting is funny, and this movie has some of that type of comedy in it. 
I'm not sure why they included it, since it doesn't mesh with the resst
of the movie.  Luckily it's not very frequent and easy to ignore.

Another thing that I disliked was that they give away the ending to
the movie The 6th Sense.  That's one of my pet peeves, I hate
when twists are revealed, and if you haven't seen the movie you probably
should before screening this.

The thing that I think impressed me most about the movie was the ending. 
I was throughly expecting a cop-out or deus ex machina type resolution,
but that wasn't the case.  The film gets kudos for not coming up with
something unrealistic to wrap up the plot.


The DVD:




This Blu-Ray DVD, which in only viewable on a Blu-Ray player, comes
in a clear blue keepcase, slightly thinner and shorter than a standard
DVD Amaray case.  There is only the same promotional insert that the
other initial Blu-Ray offerings were packaged with.  The disc itself
has same horrid generic blue disc image on its face as the other releases.

Video:

This film was presented with its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and
looked pretty good for a regualr DVD.  Unfortunately high definition
raises the bar and this disc can't reach that mark.  The film's beautiful
Hawaiian scenery should just pop off the screen, but it just lays there. 
The colors are surprisingly dull, without the rich vibrancy that HD can
offer.  The opening scenes of the jungle and beach look like a nice
SD DVD, but nothing more.  Even my wife, who does not have an eye
for detail, remarked at how lifeless the image looked.

Aside from that, the picture looked fine.  The flesh tones were
fine, the contrast was good, and the level of detail, while not HD quality,
was very good.  The print used for the transfer was excellent without
any spots or imperfections.   There was a minor amount of color
bleeding from a red shirt in one scene, but it was very minor and didn't
reappear.

I viewed this film through using the HDMI output and checked it against
the component feed also.  The disc is not flagged with an Image Constraint
Token allowing it to play in HD over component video.  The two outputs
presented comparable pictures with no major differences between the two.

Audio:

The disc come with a PCM uncompressed audio track, as well as DD 5.1
mixes in English and French.  The PCM track sounded very good, with
very good range and a pleasing tonal quality.  The music was reproduced
faithfully and Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's voice is amazingly
clean and clear while he sings his unforgettable rendition of Somewhere
Over the Rainbow
near the end of the film.

Though the audio is reproduced well, the soundstage doesn't get much
of a work out.  The film is dialog based and the vast majority of
sounds are centered on the screen.   Some music is thrown to
the rears, but that's about it.  A fairly pedestrian mix.

Extras:

Once again, the Blu-Ray disc gets shorted on the extras.  There
are a few bonus items that the SD DVD release had that are not found on
this version, including the making-of featurette, deleted scenes, music
videos, and a Comedy Central special.

Another slap in the face to early adopters of this format is the fact
that the video extras, all in 4:3 format, are stretched to fill a 16:9
picture. I assume that this is the fault of the Samsung BD-P1000 player
and not the DVD, but without another player to compare it with it's hard
to be certain.

So what is on the disc?  First of all there is a commentary track
with director Peter Segal along with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. 
This was a fun track with Segal and Sandler joking around and telling some
amusing stories about the shoot.  Drew is fairly quiet, but it's still
worth listening to.  There is also a funny reel of flubs and goofs,
and a Talkin' Pidgin featurette that gives viewers a five minute
lesson in Hawaiian slang.

Final Thoughts:

This movie was much more fun than I thought it would be.  It's
not great work of art mind you, but if you're looking for a nice gentle
story that's amusing throughout with occasional big laughs, this will certainly
fit the bill.  It's too bad this Blu-Ray release doesn't look better. 
The picture was flat and dull, and the Hawaiian scenery just didn't come
to life like it should have.  The fact that there are extras missing
from the SD DVD version is also disappointing.  While I wouldn't bother
to upgrade (though I haven't seen the regular DVD of this movie and can't
offer a direct comparison) if you're looking to buy a copy this Blu-ray
disc gets a weak recommendation.

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