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50 FIRST DATES ($29) is goofy, good-natured romantic fun and a rather enjoyable little movie, although I donít think this film has the instant classic quality of Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymoreís previous pairing in THE WEDDING SINGER. In 50 FIRST DATES, Sandler portrays Henry Roth, a man who has a serious problem making a commitment to any woman, and thus, takes advantage of living in Hawaii by dating one beautiful tourist after another. One morning, Henry meets Lucy Whitmore (Barrymore) in a local restaurant and they have marvelous time together. Amazingly, Henry is smitten with Lucy and when he goes back to the restaurant to hook up with her again- Lucy has absolutely no clue who Henry is.

As it turns out, Lucy was in a serious automobile accident about a year ago and has lost her ability to retain her short-term memories. Every night when Lucy goes to sleep, she forgets everything that has happened to her in the previous day. Waking up every morning Lucy follows the same routine, as though it were the day of her accident, with her father (Blake Clark) and brother (Sean Astin) maintaining a rather elaborate charade to protect her from the truth. Of course, Henry remains very taken with Lucy and after a series of first dates, he falls in love with her, which leaves him with the dilemma of finding new ways for her to fall in love with him each and every day. The cast of 50 FIRST DATES also includes Rob Schneider, Lusia Strus, Amy Hill, Maya Rudolph, Nephi Pomaikai Brown and Joe Nakashima.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made 50 FIRST DATES available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays (a separate full screen version is also available for anyone who cares). This is a great looking wide screen transfer of a really nice looking movie. 50 FIRST DATES takes good advantage of the Hawaiian scenery and the DVD offers a visually pleasing representation of the film. The image is nicely sharp and produces a very solid level of detail. Colors are bright and fully saturated, while flesh tones produce a nice healthy glow. Blacks are accurately rendered, whites are crisp, plus the image produces good shadow detail and very smooth contrast. The film elements used for the transfer are very clean, and display relatively little appreciable grain. Digital compression artifacts remain well concealed throughout.

50 FIRST DATES comes with a better than average comedy mix. As expected the forward soundstage tends to dominate; however, the surround channels are put to good use on occasion. However, ambient sounds and musical fill are generally the backbone of rear channel activity. Dialogue is always intelligible and the voices usually sound quite natural. Fidelity is rather good, which enhances the score, as well as the pop tunes featured on the soundtrack. The bass channel gets the job done, but isnít going to shake the house to the foundation. A French 5.1 channel track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and French subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some nice extras. Director Peter Segal and actress Drew Barrymore are on hand for a running audio commentary track, and while their talk is enjoyable enough, this isnít the most technically minded track on the market. The Dating Scene is a twenty-minute look behind-the-scenes with the usual complement of interviews. Talkiní Pidgin spends five minutes reviewing the Hawaiian slang used in the movie. Rob Schneider hosts Reel Comedy, which provides another twenty-minute look behind-the-scenes. Five deleted scenes with optional commentary are also provided on the disc, as is a blooper reel, three music videos, filmographies and previews for other Columbia titles.

50 FIRST DATES is a fun movie that makes for another solid pairing of Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. Columbiaís wide screen DVD looks and sounds great and offers some nice extras. If you like quirky romantic comedy, with a nice dose of lowbrow humor, you canít go wrong with 50 FIRST DATES.



50 First Dates (Widescreen Edition) (2004)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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