Director: Ari Sandel
Screenplay: Josh Whittington
Starring: Adam DeVine, Alexandra Daddario, Andrew Bachelor, Robbie Amell, Shelley Hennig
Runtime: 97 Minutes
When We First Met pitches itself as a simplistic mashup of concepts and more or less follows through on it; what if Groundhog Day but a romantic comedy? Essentially giving itself a blank slate to work on in which it can play with different scenarios played out over and over again without having to diverge too far from a visual, narrative or character placement that it practically locks itself into from the first scenes.
Directed by Ari Sandel of the decent The DUFF a few years back, this Netflix Original is the base model of the format that has been engineered for streaming. Plain, simple and mostly inoffensive but watchable because you’re not paying extra for it other than a subscription fee.
That’s not to say the film is bad at all, it's just rather unremarkable and overall forgettable but it works as a comforting little distraction thanks to some delightful performances. Mainly from lead Adam DeVine who just about manages to make his character, Noah Ashby, and his time meddling efforts to win the heart of love interest and supposed best friend Avery Martin (Alexandra Daddario) on the right side of creepy, as opposed to the entitled and blissfully unaware wish fulfilment of About Time.
Supposedly best friends is probably the right word, because despite DeVine and Daddario’s chemistry they actually share little in common as characters for the most part, and the manner in which the film jumps between the night they met and the present day three years later confusingly cuts out much of the needed work to build the foundations of a believable relationship in any way.
Although, this is something the screenplay by Josh Whittington is in some form aware of. The ultimate resolution is telegraphed by the film pretty early on. As in might the good-natured and browbeating comradery he shares with Avery’s best friend Carrie (played by a delightful Shelley Hennig) lead to something more? But much of the third act goes toward cutting down Noah’s own self-projected image of the person he sees Avery as instead of the person that she is, and that maybe he should just consider getting over himself and appreciating what he has instead of trying to destroy her destined relationship with well-meaning faience Ethan (Robbie Amell).
There’s probably more to be mined of a premise that mashes up elements of Big and Click for good measure, specifically, don’t we all wish that we could do over the last 3 wretched years on planet earth? But as it stands its mostly inoffensive, slight and sweet but eventually unremarkable romcom.