Review: When We First Met
Directed By: Ari Sandel
By Jesse Newell
When We First Met is a romantic comedy starring Adam DeVine, Alexandra Daddario, Robbie Amell, Shelley Hennig and Andrew Bachelor. A down-on-his-luck man discovers that an old photo booth is actually a time machine and uses it to try and win the affection of the girl of his dreams.
If you could go back in time, what would you change? Would you stop Adolf Hitler’s rise to power? Would you relive your favourite childhood memory? For me, I would go back a day or so and stop myself from watching When We First Met.
The plot of this film feels somewhat similar to that of Groundhog Day, but with a millennial twist; this time, our protagonist finds himself trapped in the “friendzone.” Noah (DeVine) meets Avery (Daddario) at a party but is disappointed that his romantic interest isn’t mutual. The next day, he finds out the old photo booth in the pub has the power to send him back in time. Noah replays the date to try and hook up with Avery but naturally, his first attempt fails miserably. So, he tries again… and again… and again to the point where it comes off as excessively creepy. I’m honestly surprised a film like this exists in 2018, particularly in a post-Weinstein era. Because essentially this is the story of a man who won’t let the space-time continuum stop him from wanting to sleep with a resistant woman.
Adam DeVine tries to play a goofball who just wants to find love, but he comes off as awkward and cringe-worthy. From his whiny voice to his musical background, DeVine felt like a poor man’s Jack Black in this film. Although Alexandra Daddario is serviceable as the Avery, Robbie Amell (The DUFF) delivers a wooden performance as Ethan, the man Avery falls for. You might as well have cast any generic actor and it wouldn’t have changed his character in the film.
But some of the logic the film tries to pass off is bafflingly stupid. For example, every time Noah puts a coin in the photo booth, he gets sent back in time. But we also see many other people using the machine, so why aren’t they reliving their days like Noah? And if they are, why hasn’t the universe exploded because of people changing the past? If you’re going to incorporate time travel into your story, at least consider the logistics first.
When We First Met claims to be a “comedy” but I barely laughed whilst watching. I uttered a meagre chuckle when Adam DeVine gets beaten up with a plant, but that was pretty much it. This comes as a shocking disappointment considering the writer, John Whittington, was also behind the gut-busting animated film, The Lego Batman Movie. His script feels so predictable that you immediately know how the film is going to end. On top of that, there’s really not much to say about the technical aspects of this film. David Hennings’ (Horrible Bosses) cinematography feels bland and indistinguishable from other films in the romantic comedy genre.
At the end of the day, When We First Met isn’t one of the worst films out there. It just doesn’t offer anything new to the romantic comedy genre. And if you are looking for a dumb film to watch with your significant other this Valentine’s Day, maybe you’ll have some fun with this. But after seeing The Big Sick last year, I know for a fact that romantic comedies can be better than this.