‘WHEN WE FIRST MET’ (2018) Movie Review – A Story About A Man Trapped In The Friend Zone
When We First Met is a Netflix original romantic comedy directed by Ari Sandel, starring Alexandra Daddario and Adam Devine, and along with 2017’s Happy Death Day is yet another film that is repurposing the Groundhog Day time-travel element (in a slightly different but similar enough manner). The story follows Noah (Adam Devine) who after being trapped in the friend-zone by his dream girl Avery (Alexandra Daddario) discovers he can travel back in time to the moment they first met to try his luck again and again. Upon first hearing about this I loved the premise and thought that combined with the talent involved this could be a great movie, but in the end it fails to live up to its potential and is just very average. Comedically it should be much better than it is, considering the comedic talent in here, and where the majority of the problems lie are with the writing as where it shows some moments of promise it almost always reverts back to a fairly basic level.
The cast involved are a pretty talented bunch inside and outside the comedic realm so it’s a shame they weren’t given a whole lot of really good content to work with. There are some very funny moments here and there that do hit but in between there’s a lot of time where there’s nothing that funny being executed. I feel like everyone in here from Daddario and Devine to Andrew Bachelor, Robbie Amell, and Shelly Hennig are quite good and do a lot with the little comedic dialogue their characters are given. Alexandra Daddario is a great talent and always entertaining to watch in a number of things she’s in whether it’s a good film or not so good. Both Daddario and Devine I really enjoyed watching and their chemistry together made their scenes the most fun to watch. Devine does go a little extreme at times but it was fine, not at an annoying level. Andrew Bachelor and Shelly Hennig are the next two who have limited roles but when they’re on screen I enjoyed almost every minute of them and was left wanting more. They play very different yet incredibly likeable characters both of whom are taken in different directions I didn’t see coming and that I really enjoyed. Amell is given the least to do of the main players but even he does what he can and he’s fine.
The writing however is where the film ultimately suffers in terms of the pacing and the overall progression of the story. It never really makes the most of its opportunities or executes story elements exceptionally well…. And I feel as though this is a matter of lack of experience first and foremost as the man in charge of writing is John Whittington whose only writing credits are one of 5-6 of co-writers on both The LEGO Batman Movie (2017) and The LEGO Ninjago Movie (2017). The problem is the story is constantly building to a certain point and up until that point it has been pretty decent, but once it hits that point it’s unsure of where it wants to go so it takes a fairly generic road home which I hoped it wouldn’t do. The schtick that is essentially driving the plot forward does lose its charm by the third act (with help from LMFAO) which is pretty disappointing. Despite taking a generic approach to the latter moments it does incorporate a nice spin on things that I did thoroughly admire.
So in end I’d say this is at its best a very average movie that being on Netflix is a good film to catch if you are at home and looking for a somewhat fun romantic comedy to sit back and just enjoy. It’s not as good as I’d hoped it’d be and it didn’t have a whole lot of laughs but it has its moments and its moments when they hit are good. I look at this similar to Ari Sandel’s most recent project The DUFF (2015), that too is a very down the middle average movie with some laughs here and there. They’re both fun for what they are but won’t necessary blow you away. Best not to go into this movie expecting a hilarious laugh-fest but the cast are very entertaining and their on-screen chemistry make it a worthwhile casual watch.