Noah spends the perfect first night with Avery, the girl of his dreams, but gets relegated to the friend zone. He spends the next three years wondering what went wrong - until he gets the unexpected chance to travel back in time and change that night - and his fate - over and over again.
Netflix is often the streaming site to find quality TV shows to occupy your binging hours, but for a while now they’ve also been producing a variety of films as well. Reading the general Hollywood news, a critical consensus seems to have formed that despite good TV, Netflix movies leave you disappointed. But audience consensus doesn’t always match, looking for example at Bright — critical flop, but audience favorite - and The Cloverfield Paradox (another critical flop, but one I found quite enjoyable). With When We First Met, I’m of both minds as once.
When We First Met is formulaic. It honestly is as if Netflix analyzed a hundred rom-coms and devised some sort of algorithm that would produce an outline for a successful film of their own. Obviously the result must be bad, right? Cliche after cliche and mostly bland, boilerplate jokes couldn’t possibly make for an entertaining movie. Well yes and no. When We First Met isn’t by any stretch of the imagination going to win any awards, or even become someone’s favorite film that you could watch multiple times in one day. But there’s a certain charm to the movie that I still found extremely appealing.
One could summarize the film as a modern-day Groundhog Day, though that idea has been used in countless films as this list can tell you. Even this summary is a cliche, but it works. The premise isn’t the best, but the story does deliver a surprising amount of unexpected twists and turns. The jokes don’t always hit, but the situations and characters fill in for some of their pitfalls. It isn’t a great film, but yet I walked away satisfied as if I did watch a good film. As Brian Tallerico describes in his review that When We First Met, “certainly qualifies as something to watch while you play games on your smartphone” and I think that is an apt description. For when you want/need a rom-com fix, When We First Met will certainly deliver in the moment, leave you happy at the end, but probably will be forgotten by the next time “I’ve Got You Babe” is blaring at 6:00am.
3 out of 5