I suppose it’s saying something when you have an Adam Sandler comedy not based on slapstick, although the only parts I enjoyed in 50 First Dates were the times when physical comedy. I’m not generally a fan of Sandler’s comedies, or perhaps it’s just Sandler himself who I don’t like. Regardless, this is one of the tamer entries, despite the more risky points being when it begins to gain momentum. You can’t win them all, I guess.

Sandler plays Henry Roth, a womanizer working as a marine veterinarian in Hawaii whose primary targets involve the women who are visiting. That way, we’re told, he can’t get too involved. Henry is a charming man, and in an opening montage of women, we learn that he knows how to treat a woman right, even if his methods to “escape” leave a lot to be desired. He has one friend that isn’t a walrus or penguin, and that’s a pot-smoker named Ula (Rob Schneider), who seems to be in the film only because Schneider and Sandler are friends. His character serves no actual purpose.

Henry heads to a café one day, and spots a local girl, Lucy (Drew Barrymore), making a volcano out of her waffles. This gesture apparently intrigues him enough to make her the sole object of his desire. He eventually manages to talk with her, spend the day with her, and get a promise to see her again the next day. And see her he does, as the next day, he heads to the café, sits across from her, and is rejected completely. She’s seemingly forgotten all about him, and is repulsed by the very sight (and smell) of him.

It’s here when the premise of the film is explained. Lucy had a car accident sometime in the past year, and the part of her brain which allows short-term memory to be converted to long-term memory has been essentially destroyed. When she goes to sleep, she has no recollection of anything that happened since her accident. Her father (Blake Clark) and brother (Sean Astin), go along with this and never clue her in that it’s no longer May. When Lucy said she had never seen Henry before, she actually believed that, as she hadn’t stored the memory of him in her brain.

What follows is not as interesting or as complex as that explanation. Henry can’t give her up, so he tries day after day to use his charming personality to magically fix the part of Lucy’s brain that allows her to wake up every morning without a single memory of Adam Sandler in her brain. You know, that doesn’t actually sound that bad. I kid, I kid, but I do hope that you can see the flaw in Henry’s plan, and why the film eventually backs itself into a corner from which there is no way to escape.

There is one laugh-out-loud scene in 50 First Dates from where I’m standing, and it only works because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and because I like watching Rob Schneider getting beaten with a baseball bat. Most of the other jokes fall flat, and there’s a lot of tedium to them. If a joke doesn’t work, the filmmakers don’t care and continue to try to make the audience accept it anyway. Mostly, we’re just watching Adam Sandler go through way after way attempting to do the impossible. Or maybe the improbable. Watch to find out, if you’re willing to sit through 99 minutes of boredom and unfunny jokes to get a resolution.

The only thing that almost saves the film is the chemistry between Sandler and Berrymore. The pair starred together in 1998’s The Wedding Singer, and despite six years bridging the gap between that movie and this one, the two are familiar with one another and seem to have fun in each other’s presence. I almost enjoyed watching them on-screen together, even though the plot almost seemed to be forcing them apart — or at least into unfunny gags, which is just as bad.

The problem is that there isn’t enough deviation between all of Henry’s attempts, leading to a lot of similar situations. We see him try the same type of thing over and over again that it just gets tiresome. I wanted the film to be over at the half-way point, and was floored when I found out that there were still 40 minutes remaining. I suppose you can say that about all bad movies — if they’re bad, they’re always too long — but 50 First Dates compounds that problem by doing the same thing far too frequently.

It also never really explains why Henry is so enamoured with this woman that he’ll go through these many hoops to be with her. He just kind of decides to one day for no real reason. Perhaps it’s “love at first sight,” but even that isn’t really explained. At one point, I thought he was using it as an excuse not to go on that Alaskan fishing trip that he’d been planning for the last ten years, but that would be too smart and deep for this motion picture.

50 First Dates has the makings of a good short film, perhaps, but stretched to feature-length and it runs short of ideas. If it was more imaginative, if it was funnier, if it didn’t try to force us to like jokes that simply weren’t working — it could have been enjoyable. The two leads were certainly likable enough. But when you have one really funny scene and absolute silence for the rest of the film, you’re not going to endear yourself to an audience. You should just forget about this one.