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Film / 50 First Dates

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50 First Dates is a 2004 American Romantic Comedy film. It stars Adam Sandler as a woman-chasing veterinarian (Henry) and Drew Barrymore (Lucy) as an amnesiac due to a brain injury during a car accident.

Henry is an ocean wildlife veterinarian in Hawaii who has built up a reputation of seducing attractive tourists who are looking to blow off some steam. In a chance encounter, he meets Lucy at a local restaurant and they connect, they have a great first date but the next day she looks at him like he's a stranger. He learns her injury permanently damaged her ability to form new long term memories, forgetting everything when she goes to bed and starts the next day as though it was the day of the accident. Her closest friends and family have resolved to let her believe it is the day of the accident.


Recognizing the difficulty of building a relationship with someone who will never remember him the next day, Henry finds himself unable to just let her go. So he resolves to "meet" her and have her fall in love with him anew every day. Hilarity Ensues.

This film provides examples of:

  • Accidental Innuendo: When Henry talks to Lucy again, he makes a joke about him and his walrus that Lucy finds suggestive and insulting and belives him to being a stalker as she claims to have never even met him. This confuses Henry, prompting Sue to explain things to him.
    Henry: My hands are extra fishy if you care to take a whiff.
    Lucy: (confused) What...was that?
    Henry: I was petting my walrus all morning and I was thinking about you the whole time.
    Lucy: Okay, pervert. I think you should leave.
  • Action Girl: When Henry has Ula pretend to beat him up as one of his attempts at a Meet Cute with Lucy, Lucy takes a baseball bat and comes to his "rescue."
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  • Adult Fear: Your daughter has an accident that gives her brain damage that resets her memories every 24 hours. To keep her from realizing anything wrong you, your son and all her friends repeat the last day before the accident over and over, but you know that it can't last forever as she will still age, and one day she will wake up and from her perspective has lost years of her life overnight.
  • All in the Manual: The photos and drawings scribbled in the end credits reveal that Henry and Lucy's daughter is named Nicole.
  • Almost Kiss: Defied. When Henry reunites with Lucy after several weeks of separation, they are about to kiss...until 10-second Tom breaks in for no apparent reason. But then, Henry shoos him away and continues the kiss, anyway.
  • Aloha, Hawaii!: The main setting of the film.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Alexa.
  • Ambiguously Gay
    • Doug speaks with a lisp and fits into the Gym Bunny stereotype.
    • The opening montage hints that Henry has had a relationship with a man, though it might have just been a one-sided crush.
  • Amnesiac Lover: Lucy.
  • Armour-Piercing Question: Henry calls out Marlin about how he clearly hasn't thought about how exactly are they can keep their ruse going when eventually Lucy will wake up one day and find she's aged years overnight. Marlin tells him he thinks about that exact thing all the time.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!
    • Lucy remembers everything only up until her accident.
    • Also, Ten-Second Tom, whose memory span is a period of ten seconds.
      Tom: Hi, I'm Tom! (ten seconds later...) Hi, I'm Tom!
  • Award-Bait Song: "Love Song" by 311. Though because it's a cover, it wouldn't be able to get a nomination.
  • Batter Up!: Henry has Ula pretend to beat him up so that Lucy could help him and therefore greet her. Lucy ends up beating Ula up with a metal baseball bat and chases him off while still beating him up.
    Ula: (running off) OH, YOU CRAZY BITCH!
    Lucy: Yeah, KEEP RUNNING!!
  • Big "WHY?!": Lucy appears to be yelling one of these when she discovers the truth about her memory being wiped due to an accident that happened to her a year prior and runs out on the deck in tears.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Lucy never truly recovers, though she does dream about Henry enough to almost remember him. The two marry and have a child, though Lucy still has to watch tapes of the events of her life since the accident to truly remember both of them. Clearly, they are making the best of a bad situation.
  • Distant Finale: Lucy wakes up and watches the "Good morning, Lucy" video, which shows her the October 13 accident and her friends wishing her happiness as usual,...except that it ends with her and Henry's wedding. And then she comes outside to find that she's on board Henry's boat to Alaska, with Henry, Marlin, and her toddler daughter, Nicole, for company.
  • The Ditz: Doug.
  • Dramatic Irony: The primary conflict of the film. Because Lucy's anterograde amnesia makes her unable to form new memories after a period of 24 hours, she wakes up everyday thinking that it's October 13 of the previous year. Unless she is told herself, she doesn't follow any developments of her social circle afterward, including her friends' marriage or parenthood. The most important thing, however, is that she doesn't remember ever falling in love with Henry, as to her, he's a new person everyday, even though they've been dating for weeks and possibly months. Exemplified best during a montage of the falls-in-love.
    Lucy: Nothing beats a first kiss.
    Henry: Yeah.
    (the next day)
    Lucy: Nothing beats a first kiss.
    Henry: Yeah.
    (repeated several times)
  • Easy Amnesia: Averted. Also, Lucy is suffering from post-trauma memory loss. While it's much more common in real life, it's rarely depicted in cinema.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: Which repeats itself because of Lucy's amnesia, although Henry does his best to make it different each time.
  • Funny Background Event: In one scene, Doug climbs to a chandelier and starts doing vertical sit-ups there. Both the chandelier and Doug then fall down.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Sue is telling Henry about the car accident that happened to Marlin and Lucy, in a few shots shows a pineapple flying out of the car and onto the grass, as the same time the car collides into a tree.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Due to Lucy's amnesia.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Lucy
  • Hollywood Science: The exact type of amnesia depicted in film where an individual loses their memory of the last 24 hours when they wake up in the morning, referred to in the film as Goldfield Syndrome, does not exist. However, in the years since the film came out, a woman named Michelle Philpots was discovered to suffer from a case of anterograde amnesia that closely resembled the fictional condition in the film. Though in her case, she also has severe problems with memory over the course of the same day (as opposed to the film's neat "24 hour memory" plot).
  • I Have This Friend...: Used by Doug about his steroid use.
  • In the Local Tongue: After Ulla says something deep and meaningful sounding to Henry as they are saying goodbye:
    Henry: Thanks buddy, that's beautiful. What's it mean again?
    Ulla: Bring me back a t-shirt.note 
  • Internal Reveal: The audience already knows Lucy's predicament, but Lucy herself doesn't realize this until the expired ticket incident. Which she has to relieve every single day after for the rest of her life.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: This is why Lucy tries to cut Henry out of her life so he doesn't have to dedicate his life to caring for her.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Henry's love-life consisted entirely of vacation flings with tourists until he met Lucy.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Lucy's condition is Handwaved away as being because "she can't convert her short-term memory into long-term memory in her sleep". Basically, she is totally normal except that every time she goes to sleep (what if she stays up on a 48-hour bender? Or if she takes an afternoon nap?) she forgets everything that happened since a car accident a year before the story starts. Her family and friends go to great lengths to keep her from noticing that years have passed since the day of her accident. When Henry learns about this, he calls bullshit on them, asking if they haven't wondered what will happen when Lucy suddenly wakes up and is in her forties.
  • Man Of My Dreams: Henry, for Lucy.
  • Meet Cute: Henry has one with Lucy, but Lucy has a new one with him every day.
  • Memory Gambit: Lucy eventually attempts to erase Henry from her memory, so she wouldn't screw up his plans to go to the Arctic and study walruses (or walri; the species he studies is ambiguously ambiguous). It ultimately fails, however, as she dreams about him almost every night and has an art studio full of paintings she's made of him.
  • Never Learned to Read: Henry uses this as a trick to get Lucy to talk to him on one of the many days he introduces himself to her in the diner. He splashes water on his eyes and acts like he's crying until she comes to see what's wrong. When he confesses that he can't read the menu, she spends all morning sitting with him "teaching" him. He blows it though when he doesn't ask her for a second date (because he knows she won't remember) and she gets furious and reveals that she knew the whole thing was a ploy and went along with it because she liked him.
  • Noodle Incident: Doug got disqualified from the Mr.Hawaii contest due to steroid abuse.
    Doug I didn't know there was gonna be a urine test.
    • Dr. Goldberg wishing his wife had Goldfield Syndrome so she wouldn't remember when she insulted her last night.
  • Note to Self: Lucy keeps a journal (later a video tape) since she loses her memory every day.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: From the video montage of everything Lucy missed in the past year: “Schwarzenegger Elected Governor... not kidding!”
  • One-Track-Minded Artist: Lucy is an artist whose ability to create new memories was damaged in a terrible accident — with her anterograde amnesia, she wakes up every day believing it's Sunday, October 13th. After she and Henry try to make a relationship comprised only of first dates work out, Lucy breaks up with Henry so he can pursue his career and her family decides it's for the best that she lives in a care facility for adults with brain injuries and memory issues. Henry visits Lucy in the facility, and while she admits she doesn't know him she shows him her studio, which is full of paintings of Henry. He appears in her dreams despite her amnesia, and she continues to paint him again and again.
  • Overprotective Dad: Lucy's father does everything to make sure his daughter keeps reliving the same day and won't freak out. He also repeatedly tells Henry to stay away from Lucy. In the end, he joins Henry and Lucy as they leave Hawaii. Doug and the cafe denizens definitely have this vibe, too, possibly to a greater extent. Justified because of Lucy's condition. Henry actually calls Marlin out for enforcing this trope to an extreme extent by continually making Lucy living in a state of denial and not taking into factor of her future, or what would happen if she suddenly wakes up to see an old woman looking at her back from a mirror. Marlin actually has thought that part through, and dreads it. He just doesn't have any better ideas and is doing the best he can to shield her from further trauma.
  • Pair the Spares: It's sort of implied that Alexa and Doug hook up in the end.
  • Relationship Reset Button: Constantly for the rest of their life.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The penguin, especially when he's wearing his little Hawaiian shirt.
  • Running Gag
  • Scary Polynesian Man: Nick aka "Tattoo Face."
    Nick: Hey, mister peanut butter cups!
    Henry: Hey, mister could-kill-me-with-one-punch!
  • Scenery Porn: Makes great use of Hawaiian locations and vistas.
  • Shout-Out
    • The Callahan Institute was "founded out of Sandusky Ohio by TB Callahan, the automotive components tycoon". To make it even clearer, Dan Aykroyd is the one who's saying the line.
    • When Henry is golfing with Ula and his kids, Ula attempts (badly) the trademark Happy Gilmore swing, only for Henry to say it's "the stupidest thing [he's] ever seen." The best is the kids then executing an adorable (and highly successful) version, in unison.
    • Ula is based on a real guy.
    • The two dolphins at Henry's place are named Mary-Kate and Ashley.
    • Lucy's family watches The Sixth Sense. Complete with Lucy being surprised at learning that Malcolm-er, Bruce Willis is a ghost, while her dad and brother just nod uninterestedly because they already know that.
    • Lucy reads Still Life With Woodpecker - A Sort Of A Love Story by Tom Robbins.
    • The Beach Boys is mentioned several times during the film and their music is played.
  • Tagline: "Imagine having to win over the girl of your dreams... every friggin' day."
  • The Stoner: Ula, who is always smoking weed joints even though he denies it many times. Which would explain his behavior.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Every morning, Lucy eats waffles for breakfast and makes little houses out of them.
    • Henry's favorite is Spam and Reese's peanut butter cups.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The cop that cites Lucy's car for being expired, is what leads to Lucy discovering about her memory loss issue.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The Walrus.


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