REVIEW: When We First Met (2018)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of Netflix’s When We First Met — Directed by Ari Sandel.

When We First Met is a romantic comedy from Oscar-winner Ari Sandel (having won that award for a live-action short), which is basically a mixture of Harold Ramis’ Groundhog Day and Richard Curtis’ About Time that is so predictable that it becomes a waste of time to watch, in spite of it not being as bad as one might’ve feared.

The film follows Noah (played by Adam Devine), who three years earlier was ‘friendzoned’ by Avery (played by Alexandra Daddario). Avery is the girl of his dreams, but she just got engaged to Ethan (played by Robbie Amell) — the perfect nice guy husband-to-be.

While drowning his sorrows on the night of the engagement party, Noah makes a wish in the very same photo booth, which he and Avery was in when they first met. The wish — to get another chance at being good enough for Avery — comes through, when the photo booth takes him three years back in time and gives him a chance to start again.

So many Netflix ‘original films’ exist that the truly great films from Netflix are just drops in the ocean compared to the amount of empty calorie movies that serve as little more than screensavers to have on in the background as you pass out on the couch.

And, really, When We First Met is the prototypical Netflix ‘original film.’ It has got recognizable performers in the leading roles. It isn’t too long. The familiarity of the plot is perfect for late night viewing on Netflix, because even though you’ve seen something like it before, you haven’t seen this particular film. Imitations and knock-offs are easily tolerated on Netflix, when you’ve got nothing better to do.

Because that is all it is. I think Adam Devine can be really funny, and I often say that I would like to see Daddario in greater roles that demand something else from her than just being the pretty girl every guy wants. But this film doesn’t do either of them any favors. When We First Met is that kind of knock-off blend that has pretty much everything it needs to have, but which isn’t necessarily all that good.

I mean, of course, When We First Met has a scene where Devine runs down the street to Huey Lewis and the News‘ “Back In Time.” It also isn’t very funny. While I did chuckle twice or three times, it doesn’t pass the six laugh-test that a comedy should be able to pass.

In fairness, this film was not at all as creepy as I thought it would be. Films like this one — wherein the lead character is a man trying to convince a pretty girl that she should really be with him — only work if it is significantly charming, because it can easily be off-putting.

I know that a lot of people really dislike Richard Curtis’ About Time for that reason, but, all things considered, I actually really like that film. Large chunks of When We First Met can definitely be seen as off-putting, but I would say that, some of the time, the film knows exactly how creepy the plot is.

But even if I would perhaps excuse that issue, the larger problems with this film remains. When We First Met is clichéd, not all that interesting, and extremely predictable. I knew exactly how this movie would end five or ten minutes into the film.

4.5 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen

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