When We First Met Review

When We First Met is a 2018 rom-com about a guy who spends the perfect first night with the girl of his dreams before getting relegated to the friend zone.

Last year, on Saturday Night Live, during the Weekend Update, Michael Che cut to Jake Rocheck (Mikey Day), reporting from the ‘friend zone’ where he is helping his pal Shannon (Cecily Strong) move into her new place. Problem is, he’s absolutely crazy about her but she only wants to be … well, you know, friends … even as he does everything for her. It’s a very funny skit that, in only three minutes, absolutely nailed the joke straight on the head. With Ari Sandel‘s latest When We First Met, that joke is extend to 90 minutes and despite a solid set up, devolves into some old tunes we’ve heard before, missing a good opportunity to go somewhere new.

Three years ago, Noah Ashby (Adam Devine), a jazz pianist, is at a Halloween party, dressed adorably as Garth from Wayne’s World. He bumps into Avery (Alexandra Daddario), a lovely girl dressed up as Geena Davis‘ character from A League of Their Own. It’s the ultimate meet-cute as they spend the evening bonding, the two of them seeming the perfect couple. Thing is, when the night ends and he leans in for the kiss he thinks he’s earned, nope, he gets a hug instead and lands with a face plant right in the friend zone. The next day, by chance, Avery meets Ethan (Robbie Amell), where now, three years after the party, they are getting engaged. Carrying a torch for all that time, Noah finds himself drunk and regretting his choices that night, and when he slips into the photo booth he and Avery sat in three years earlier, finds himself reliving that same day again, over and over, hoping for the chance to get the girl of his dreams.

It’s almost cliché at this point to give your movie plot a Groundhog Day twist, but yup, it’s still a thing. With that film, we got a character that needed redemption, someone we see is not the best human on the planet before he is cursed. With When We First Met, Sandel, working from a script by John Whittington, avoids all that, jumping right to the time travel after a brief set up, stripping Noah of any chance to be a character who deserves the love of Avery. Instead, he’s just a lovestruck guy who thinks he messed up the first date and somehow is entitled to getting what he wants. Lessons follow.

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Naturally, his attempts fail and he must do it all over and over, tweaking his approach, trying on different personalities to alter the time continuum in his favor. No surprisingly, there are many genuinely good moments, thanks mostly to Devine, who manages to find some bits that really work, as well as from Shelley Hennig as Avery’s friend Carrie, who is funny and never annoying, a trait all too often typical of such a character. The problem is, the movie is just too plain, playing it all too safe, rolling out the same old standards we’ve seen in the genre before, over and over. These are likeable people but paper thin. More so, you get about fifteen minutes in and you know exactly where it’s going. That makes it not a bad movie, just an easy one, good for a romcom itch but nothing more.

When We First Met Review

Movie description: When We First Met is a 2018 rom-com about a guy who spends the perfect first night with the girl of his dreams before getting relegated to the friend zone. 

Director(s): Ari Sandel

Actor(s): Adam Devine, Alexandra Daddario, Shelley Hennig

Genre: Romance, Comedy

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