An Adam Sandler movie based in Hawaii, the film features Asian-American actors such as Amy Hill, Nephi Pomaikai Brown, and Joe Nakashima just to name a few. The movie brings a level of authenticity not found in many features based in Hawaii.
Review of the Screening by MANAA
If you love Adam Sandler movies, it would be a safe bet you will love this one too. This warm hearted romance, about a man who has to make the woman of his dream fall in love with him every day because of her short term memory lost, features a cast of hilarious characters and laugh out loud comedy. The film also featured a lot of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders – Roy Schneider, Amy Hill, Nephi Pomaikai Brown, and Joe Nakashima just to name a few. Of course with a comedian such as Adam Sandler the comedy is edgy and might offend a few, but overall we didn’t find this movie offensive to Asian Americans or Hawaiians. The movie was written by George Wing and with a last name like Wing we know a lot of you are hoping he’s Asian (I know we did) but he’s not. Regardless George, Director Peter Segal, and the producers deserve a pat on the back. Hawaii never looked better. If you lived in Hawaii go see this movie and you might feel right at home.
CASTING – For Sandler and director Peter Segal, it was essential that the casting have an air of authenticity about it and it showed. According to Executive Producer Michael Ewing, “We wanted to cast people who were native Hawaiians as often as we could”. This is music to our ears especially after reading pilot scripts about Hawaii that has no Hawaiian series regulars. This dedication to authenticity shows throughout the movie. These locals are found throughout the scenes and were all depicted in a very positive light – the locals are the ones that we are laughing with. They poke fun of Henry and his crazy attempt to win Sue’s (Drew) heart, which shows that although these Haoles are the actors, it’s the Hawaiians that owns the stage.
DIALECT – Also, the locals were over the top trying too hard to be “local”. There are countless scripts that MANAA has read about Hawaii with the word “brah” littered all over it. Most of the cast spoke with Hawaiian accents and not Pidgin’ (there’s a difference) and makes it believable instead of a bad Elvis movie.
ROB SCHNIDER – He plays Ula, Adam Sandler’s best friend. He is loyal to Henry (Sandler), fun loving, and is always willing to give Henry a helping hand (even if it means getting his head whacked by a bat). He is also there for the most memorable comedic moments and has some of the movies juiciest punch lines. There are some scenes and qualities about his character that some people might find offensive (see negatives) but overall he’s okay.
AMY HILL – The biggest highlight for Asian Americans. Not only does she play Sue, a restaurant owner who is the “mother earth” of this movie, but she plays the role without a foreign accent. I think the last time I saw Amy play a character without an accent was when she had a one-liner on “Friends”. She is a grounded character that always took care of Lucy (Drew Barrymore) and is friendly toward everyone.
ROB SCHNIEDER – With most comedies, the funniest material is usually the most offensive. Rob plays a local boy who is Henry’s friend but is also some-what-of-a pervert, swears in front of his kids (he has five by the way), and complains constantly about his overweight ugly wife. As for his kooky looks, he only has one eye and wears pants way too tight for him. This is a less than flattering depiction that could rub people the wrong way. But a MANAA member who is from Hawaii shamefully admits that, “I have several uncles that look and act like Ula and I know a lot of Hawaiians that would be reluctant admit that too.”
Also, his pidgin accent sometimes lapses into what seems like a Mexican accent – he could have tried harder getting the inflections right. Some of his Hawaiian accent is accurate but there were times that he seems to be speaking gibberish. If there is anyone fluent in Hawaiian that watches this movies please let us know if his depictions are accurate.
Probably the most offensive parts of the movie takes place when Ula is covered in ti-leaves and starts chanting Hawaiian. Again, very stereotypical, and we don’t know if what he’s saying is authentic Hawaiian.
Overall, we rolled our eyes on some of these antics but his portrayal is pretty much in line with the spirit of the movie and his positives outweigh his negatives.
CASTING – Casting was great, compared to most movies this gets an “A”… but it could have earned an “A+” but some of the other roles went to Adam’s friends in previous movies, and the role of the doctor (played by Dan Aykroyd) could have gone to a local.
MONTAGE OF WOMEN – There was a montage in the beginning of various women describing Henry. These women are from all walks of life and from different races. There was even a Chinese coroner who spoke Mandarin. Although everyone described Henry and what they did on their date as more or less romantic, the Chinese woman states that, “He rode me like a mule”. So once again it’s the Asian woman who has this voracious sexual appetite and no one else. The line could have worked with any of the girls, why use it on the Asian minority who are fighting the stereotype of the Dragon Lady?
50 FIRST DATES premieres February 13, and MANAA recommends this movie not only to support the Asian talent, but to also see a good romantic comedy that takes a break from the winter weather with a movie set in Hawaii.