“When We First Met” feels outdated on two counts. It’s story is set in 2017, giving it the feel of a film that was shelved last year out of quality concerns, and it’s premise is plucked straight out of the 1990s. It has a warped view of modern dating culture but not in a misogynistic or chauvinistic way. Rather, it’s microscopic focus on a single night of regret just feels so mentally and emotionally unhealthy that we want to cry more than we ever actually laugh.
Adam DeVine stars as Noah, a millenial who, back in 2014, met a really cool girl at a party named Avery (Alexandra Daddario). Avery was smart, sophisticated but easy to talk to, and the two seemed liked they were hitting it off. Noah regaled her with piano melodies and Avery taught him the art of a photo booth selfie. Nightcaps at her place lead to a midnight departure, where Noah’s request for a kiss was rescinded with a hug instead. Ouch.
But it was literally one day! A single day where Noah could have been disappointed but have moved on to another girl who appreciated his hybrid Jim Carrey/Billy Joel shtick he’s got going on. You thought wrong, because three years later, Noah is still obsessing over Avery and that one random night. While on a bender, he stumbles into the same photobooth he and Avery sat in, and gets transported back to 2014, where he can try to change the past and win her heart.
If you think that Noah spends the rest of the film in the past, just to realize it isn’t worth it and that there’s another lady out there worthy of his love, you and I sadly thought wrong. Noah travels to the past, then the future, then the past, then the future, over and over again in desperate, a nauseating cyclone of time travel. It actually feels more akin to a lazy “Groundhog Day” than “Back to the Future” because of its constant repetition. But even after riding these cycles, Noah doesn’t ever really improve as a person, he’s just always going through desperate lengths to get women to fall in love with him.
DeVine and Daddario do an admirable job with what they’re given, as well as Shelley Hennig, Robbie Amell and Andrew Bachelor, who play their friends/love interests, depending on what time period the film is in. And the “When We First Met” does have a certain charm to it and a hopeful message of making choices count and pouncing on opportunities when they are most present. Our biggest regret though happened back in the past, when we chose to give this movie the time of day.