REVIEW / ROMANTIC COMEDY
50 FIRST KISSES (PG)
114 minutes/Opens July 26/2.5 stars
The story: Daisuke (Takayuki Yamada) is a Japanese tour guide based in Hawaii with a reputation for romancing female Japanese tourists. He ditches his playboy ways when he meets the lovely Rui (Masami Nagasawa), only to discover that she suffers from short-term memory loss and forgets him the very next day. He vows to woo her in new ways every single day after that.
Adam Sandler is not a great actor by a long shot, but after watching this Japanese remake of his romcom 50 First Dates (2004), you almost pine for his return.
Although lacking in the talent department in that film, he made up for it in his sizzling onscreen chemistry with the always adorable Drew Barrymore.
The natural sparks that they share is the reason why Sandler and Barrymore have been repeatedly paired in various films outside of 50 First Dates, from The Wedding Singer (1998) to Blended (2014).
Here, Japanese actress Masami Nagasawa comes off equally sweet in the role, but there is no passion between her and leading man Takayuki Yamada at all.
Every time the two go in for their next "first kiss", it feels like they are playing a numbers game and just checking off the list until they reach the titular 50.
A major reason why this remake feels so drab is the fact that it sticks much too closely to the original.
Almost every single detail is exactly the same as in the Hollywood version.
Even the tiny supporting characters are clones of those seen in the original. Daisuke's best friend Ula blurts out inappropriate things, and Rui's elder brother Shintaro is obsessed with drinking protein shakes and bulking up.
Japanese director Yuichi Fukuda takes things to the extreme by casting some actors who even look identical to their 50 First Dates counterparts - the characters of Hawaiian cafe owners Nick and Sue, for example, could easily be related in real life to the original Nick and Sue.
The one scene that stands out here is the rare bit that bears no similarity to anything seen in the older film - when Rui's father (Jiro Sato) suddenly breaks out into Piko Taro's viral Pen Pineapple Apple Pen song.
He looks ridiculous but is also charming and funny here, and one wishes there had been more of such inventive scenes peppered throughout.