Lucy (Drew Barrymore) wakes up every morning with no memory of anything that happened since her brain was injured in a car crash 18 months before. For the rest of us, everything that happens in this movie is just too, too familiar.
Yes, it’s another Adam Sandler movie, which means that a sweet but very immature man will fall for a winsome young lady amidst many, many, many attempts to find humor in sexual orientation, the impact of steroid use on sexual function, the relative merits of different sexual partners, getting walloped on the head, getting walloped on the stomach, getting bit by a shark, various physical disabilities and impairments, and more references to penis size and sexual stamina than an e-mailbox full of spam.
Sandler plays Henry Roth, an affable marine veterinarian at a Hawaiian acquarium whose only long-lasting relationships are with the walruses and penguins and with the goofy guy who cleans the tanks (Rob Schneider). Henry has many, many short-term relationships with female tourists, which keep him safe from commitment. Then he meets Lucy, whose short-term memory impairment makes it impossible for her to make any kind of commitment. He can’t break her heart because no matter what happens, she won’t remember him. But he falls in love with her. The girl who can’t remember is the one he can’t forget.
Barrymore is as delicious as ever, and, as in The Wedding Singer, she and Sandler have an easy chemistry that showcases their offbeat appeal. Even with an exceptionally sweet and tender romantic conclusion, some audience members will find there is too little romance and too much gross-out humor (did I mention the part where the walrus barfs all over the sexually frustrated but mannish woman with an accent?). Then there are some who will think the romance is just a distraction while waiting for the next joke about penis size. Some will be sorry about the waste of talented performers like Dan (“Saturday Night Live”) Ackroyd, as Lucy’s doctor, and Sean (Lord of the Rings) Astin as Lucy’s lisping, steroid-using brother. There may also be some who just wish everyone would get out of the way of the beautiful Hawaiian scenery. This movie has something to disappoint just about everyone.
Parents should know that this movie has exceptionally gross and crude humor, with extremely strong language for a PG-13 and comments that could be considered homophobic. Humor is drawn from drug use, disability, and injury, all portrayed as grotesque, including a clouded eyeball and a lisp. There are sexual references and situations. The movie includes a tragic car crash and comic violence, including a gross sharkbite wound and many, many very hard bonks on the head. Those who have not yet seen The Sixth Sense should know that this movie gives away the surprise. One positive note is that diverse characters demonstrate compassion and loyalty.
Families who see this movie should talk about the memories they would put into a book or tape like the one Henry makes for Lucy. How does your family try to help the members who have injuries or disabilities? They might want to talk about the way that Henry tried to protect his feelings with casual affairs and why that became unsatisfying for him. Families might be interested in more serious treatments of brain dysfunction like Lucy’s. In the book that became Awakenings Oliver Sachs also wrote about a patient with short term memory loss, which inspired the legendary Harold Pinter to write “A Kind of Alaska.” A syrupy but touching book by Nicholas Sparks called The Notebook describes a couple like Henry and Lucy.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy seeing Barrymore and Sandler together in The Wedding Singer. They will have fun with another comedy about someone who lives the same day over and over in Groundhog Day and another comedy about men who have many short-term relationships, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Families might like to compare Lucy to Dory in Finding Nemo — including the fact that both appear in movies with characters named Marlin!