Ironically, you may have forgotten about amnesia-themed romantic comedy 50 First Dates, the second in a trio of increasingly insipid Adam Sandler Drew Barrymore movies. Released in 2004, the am-rom-com sought to recapture the success of Barrymore and Sandler's charming The Wedding Singer, but ended up being one of the 21st century's first truly scary comedies. The central pair's chemistry is surely incentive to check out this sometimes-cute forgetfulness-themed flick about a womanizing veterinarian (Sandler) falling for a woman stricken with short-term memory loss (Barrymore), but isn't enough to mitigate the several reasons 50 First Dates is terrifying.
In the film, Barrymore plays Lucy, a woman who suffered a head injury in a car crash and has no short-term memory; she can only remember her life up until the accident. Sandler plays Henry, a sleazy vet who hits on tourists and racks up one-night stands until he falls for Lucy. The morning after their first night together, she doesn't remember him, so Henry sets out on a quest to relentlessly hit on her until she marries him.
Cute, right? If that description didn't raise any red flags, you're in for a shock: 50 First Dates is an existential horror movie in which Henry doggedly stalks a woman incapable of remember anything about him. He orchestrates an endless string of creepy meet-cutes, and manipulates her into falling for him. She's trapped in a prison made of time, robbed of agency by the men around her, forced to live the same day over and over, until everyone around her dies. And those are just a couple of reasons 50 First Dates will fill you with enough existential dread to sink the Titanic.
Lucy's Family Robs Her Of Agency
Lucy's family endlessly recreates the day of her accident, going so far as to fill her shampoo bottles a little each day so she doesn't get suspicious about the slight discrepancy in weight. They've keep all their calendars set to October 13th, 2002, and the house is littered with old-ass newspapers. Surely they'd have disintegrated into nothing by now.
The truly scary part is that Lucy's family doesn't give her any choice in the matter. They're Groundhog Day-ing her and she doesn’t know it. She's a prisoner to repetition but unaware of her prison, like Neo in The Matrix, a slave to a system he doesn't even realize exists. Lucy's family don't even give her the option of living another life. They've made the decision for her and now she's doomed to live a life repeated.
If Lucy's Dad Dies She'll Have To Learn That Every Morning
Lucy's dad, with whom she's especially close, isn't going to be around forever. The worst part about that, and Lucy's amnesia, is that she'll always wake up thinking her dad is alive. What if, one day, she slides Henry's memory tape into the VCR (by the way, the video thing? This movie came out in 2004. Was anyone still using VHS then?) and gets told by Henry that not only is she in love with him, but her dad is dead?
Two horrible pieces of news delivered in one fell swoop: your dad's dead and you're shackled to Adam Sandler for the rest of your life.
Lucy Will Suddenly Have To Give Birth With No Memories Of Pregnancy
Henry went and got Lucy pregnant. Nine or so months from that day, she's gonna wake the hell up and her water will be breaking. Surprise pregnancy! Some births take days. Women are stuck in the hospital for upwards of a week.
So, think about this - Lucy's going to maybe come to terms with being pregnant, go through labor, then, if she falls asleep, wake up the next day having forgotten she's in labor? Or, if she stays awake all through labor, then falls asleep after the baby is born, she'll wake up to excruciating soreness and then suddenly have a baby foisted upon her.
Everyone On The Island Is In On The Groundhog Day-ing
50 First Dates takes place on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, where Lucy lives every day believing the date is October 13, 2002 (the day of her accident), when it's actually years later. Everyone on the island, or at the very least everyone in her town and those surrounding it, is in on the deception. They act like creepy cult members, drinking the Kool-Aid and believing that deceiving this woman is the best possible thing they can do.
That's creepy, right? It's weird everyone is so invested in maintaining the illusion of pre-amnesia normalcy for Lucy. That's some horror movie ish right there. That's Shutter Island. That's The Wicker Man. That's straight up creepy.