50 First Dates appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Dates provided a generally solid picture.
Sharpness seemed good. The movie usually appeared crisp and well-defined, though I noticed some instances of softness. Those instances mainly popped up in wider shots. Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no issues, but I did see some mild edge enhancement at times. The movie lacked any issues with print flaws, as I noticed no signs of specks, marks, or other defects.
Colors presented a highlight of the image. Given the tropical setting, the movie used a nicely naturalistic palette, and the DVD replicated those tones well. The hues seemed lively and vibrant, as they remained clean and distinct at all times. Black levels also appeared deep and rich, while shadow detail was appropriately dense but not overly opaque. Ultimately, the picture of Dates mainly looked strong.
A few problems also negatively affected the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of 50 First Dates, but it showed some surprising strengths. The soundfield seemed more active than I expected for a romantic comedy. The forward domain dominated the affair, but not to the anticipated degree. In the front, the music showed good stereo imaging, and effects blended together nicely. Those elements moved well across the channels and meshed together seamlessly.
As for the surrounds, they contributed solid reinforcement and added some unique audio when appropriate. Thunderstorms and sea shots were moderately lively, and the Hawaiian environment seemed pretty engrossing. Again, this soundfield won’t win any awards, but it seemed more involving than I expected from a film of this genre.
Audio quality generally matched what I thought we’d get, though speech showed some concerns. While not a pervasive problem, more than a few lines displayed edginess. Otherwise, dialogue appeared acceptably warm and natural, and intelligibility never became a concern. Effects sounded clear and detailed, and they displayed no signs of distortion. Music proved to be vibrant and lively, as the score and songs sounded clean and rich. Overall, I liked the soundtrack of 50 First Dates.
When we head to the DVD’s extras, we begin with an audio commentary from director Peter Segal and actor Drew Barrymore. Both sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion. Though pretty lively and chatty, the pair don’t give us much real information about the movie. They go over subjects like differences between the final product and the original script, locations, improvisations, and general production notes. Barrymore occasionally gives us some nice remarks about character issues and challenges. However, the pair often just praise everything and everyone, and those elements drag down the discussion. They’re bright and bubbly, and they interact nicely, so the commentary goes down painlessly. It’s simply not terribly informative.
Inside the “Featurettes” domain we get three separate programs. The Dating Scene fills 20 minutes and 12 seconds as it offers the usual combination of movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews with Segal, Barrymore, actors Adam Sandler, Sean Astin, Blake Clark, Dan Aykroyd, Allen Covert, Lusia Strus, and Rob Schneider, producers Nancy Juvonen and Michael Ewing, visual effects supervisor Sheena Duggal, prop master Tim Wiles, and cinematographer Jack Green. They discuss the story’s path to the screen and casting, locations, the use of animals, and the use of minor visual effects. The program comes across as very puffy overall. Some of the behind the scenes bits are fun, especially when we see Astin’s homemade audition tape, but very little real information appears otherwise. Mainly the participants talk about how amazing everything and everyone was. That means little useful data and lots of fluff.
Talkin’ Pidgin goes for four minutes, 53 seconds. It concentrates on the film’s use of Hawaiian slang. A variety of unnamed locals define various terms in this mildly interesting piece.
For the final piece in “Featurettes”, we find an installment of Comedy Central’s usually crummy Reel Comedy series. This one takes 19 minutes and 37 seconds and comes touted as “Ula’s Movie Round-Up”, so Schneider hosts it in character. He chats with Sandler, Barrymore, and Astin as they relate the plot and we see lots of movie clips. It’s more promotional goo and not worth a look.
The Blooper Reel goes for seven minutes. Much of the material offers the usual goofiness and flubs, but we also find some alternate takes and unused footage, which makes the reel more interesting than usual. We also get a collection of five Deleted Scenes. These last five minutes via the “Play All” option and A couple offer minor additional dates, and we also see Henry finagle his way into bed with Lucy. One dramatic clip shows an aftermath of Lucy’s learning about her status. The snippets are interesting but not much more than that. We can watch them with or without commentary from Segal. He tells us why they cut the scenes and a few others details about them.
A short promo for Sandler’s new album appears as well as some music videos. We get clips for “Hold Me Now” by Wayne Wonder and two numbers from 311: “Amber” live and “Love Song”. All three seem pretty blah.
Filmographies follow. We get listings for director Segal, writer George Wing, and actors Sandler, Barrymore, Schneider, Astin and Aykroyd.
When the DVD opens, it presents a few ads. We get clips for Seinfeld on DVD, Spider-Man 2 and White Chicks. These also appear in the Previews area, where we find additional trailers for 50 First Dates, Hellboy, 13 Going on 30, Secret Window, The Company, Anger Management, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Big Daddy, Punch-Drunk Love, Mr. Deeds, Eight Crazy Nights and a Maverick soundtrack promo.
A surprisingly sweet and charming piece, 50 First Dates falters at times, but remains mostly solid. The film melds a few genres fairly smoothly and seems amusing and likable. The DVD presents very strong picture with better than average audio and a passable but generally bland set of supplements. The DVD doesn’t excel, but Dates seems enjoyable and merits a recommendation nonetheless.