50 First Kisses film review: Masami Nagasawa, Takayuki Yamada in forgettable remake of Sandler/Barrymore romcom

This Japanese adaptation of Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore’s tale of a woman with short-term memory loss and the man who has to woo her every day is beset with bad performances and clunky dialogue

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 June, 2018, 6:31pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 June, 2018, 6:30pm

2/5 stars

A womanising tour guide working in Hawaii falls for a beautiful woman with short-term memory loss, meaning he must begin his seduction afresh every day in Yuichi Fukuda’s fluffy romcom 50 First Kisses.

If this set-up sounds familiar, you are already doing better than the film’s heroine, Rui (Masami Nagasawa), who can’t retain any new memories following a near-fatal car crash the previous year. Her father and brother slavishly tailor her daily routine to hide the truth, but when the determined Daisuke (Takayuki Yamada) enters her world, it is only a matter of time before she learns the truth.

A Japanese remake of the 2004 Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore hit 50 First Dates, which has already seen Malaysian and Telugu reinterpretations, 50 First Kisses faithfully recreates many of that film’s characters and set pieces. Rui’s condition, and the way it is handled by her family and friends, remains as implausible as ever, but the chemistry between Nagasawa and Yamada is undeniable.

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As expected from Fukuda, the director of puerile hits like Psychic Kusuo , Gintama and Hentai Kamen , the film retains the broad comedy of Sandler’s original, which sits just as uncomfortably alongside the central romance. The Hawaiian locale also calls for the principals to interact with a number of English-speaking secondary characters, resulting in an abundance of bad performances and clunky dialogue.

With a Mexican version also on the way, the 50 First franchise certainly looks like a veritable cash cow for original screenwriter George Wing. Still, the flimsiness of Fukuda’s effort is leaving us in the troubling situation of desperately seeking Sandler.

50 First Kisses opens on June 14

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