There’s a dearth of dignified disability films out there. Some people even think I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel on this one. I guess I’ll get controversial now: 50 First Dates is a dignified disability film hidden inside an Adam Sandler movie. Who knew?
A few caveats to remember, though: 50 First Dates is not an easy watch for many people, including myself. As I said before, it is an Adam Sandler movie. There are offensive jokes concerning a few marginalized groups, especially concerning a transgender individual. That being said, it is not the reason I find it uneasy to watch. I find 50 First Dates uneasy to watch due to the acuurate mindset of Drew Barrymore’s character, Lucy. Being the female romantic lead in the 21st Century, it is an unwritten law that Lucy be presented in a dignifies manner. Being disabled (memory disability caused by traumatic brain injury – the movie will explain it all), she also has to be accurate. It is a razor-thin line the writers and Ms. Barrymore have to walk. Thing is, they walk it very well. Some disabled people would almost feel it is too accurate, and that is how the unease comes in. But I don’t mind the unease. I feel it is right, and ought to be pushed through to the dignified ending.
To be honest, I was not expecting such high things from an Adam Sandler movie. Let’s be honest: offensive jokes, undignified physical comedy and Adam Sandler’s screaming at times? That’s what I was expecting. This dignity threw me for a loop, truly. None of the offensive jokes are at the above character’s expense. The storyline was deep, and the thoughts of being a burden, the medical community’s negativity, and how these things eventually detoured the apropos dignified ending were well displayed. Of course, the best thing Lucy had was a community of people around her, supporting her in every way they could. Many disabled people lack this sorely…which is why they struggle so much.
I’m not saying 50 First Dates is perfect. What I’m saying is 50 First Dates is love surrounding a disabled character with dignity and grace, lifting up everyone around it. As for spoilers, the closest I’m getting is this: It’s a rom-com. How do you think it ends?