The romantic comedy. No other movie genre has come so far, seen so much and produced so little in terms of good films. The latest Netflix release, When We First Met, is no exception to this.
The film follows Noah (Adam Devine) who is in love with Avery (Alexandra Daddario). However, shockingly, Avery doesn’t love Noah, but Noah loves Avery. Many rom-com cliches later, Noah ends up in a photo booth that can travel in time. He utilises this discovery in order to make Avery fall in love with him, instead of her amazingly perfect boyfriend Ethan (Robbie Amell).
From the off, you know where this film is going. Never before has a movie so blatantly employed cliches and not batted an eyelid. This film was a lost cause as soon as the writer forgot to write characters or jokes.
Adam Devine plays a cloying, obsessive and creepy lead character, whose only trait is that he cannot leave Avery alone. The movie’s obsession with the ‘friend-zone’ is only amalgamated in Devine’s mess of a lead role, taking male entitlement to the next level. However, this is excused in the end because, as it turns out, it was all done because of fate! What a way to bring back a characters conscience: excuse his sleazy behaviour with cosmic magic. That’ll do it!
One of the key factors in a rom-com is the comedy, another thing that writer John Whittington forgot to write into his screenplay. Jokes are attempted, overshot or not even worth making in the first place, as Noah navigates his mock Groundhog Day life. Genuinely, the only thing missing from this movie is Punxsutawney Phil and Andie MacDowell acting only slightly better than Adam Devine himself.
This film is mind-numbingly easy to watch, yet frustratingly complicated. It is as though someone combined Amelie with Inception to just see what would happen, but removed anything that was ever good about those films and replaced them with Noah’s fragile ego.
Even the supporting cast could do better. Alexandra Daddario takes her role of Avery as any supporting female in a rom-com would do. She channels her inner Jennifer Aniston and plays the girl that all the guys want, incorporating trope after trope into her boringly repetitive performance. Robbie Amell basically plays himself, relying on looks to bring about oohs and ahhh’s.
Then there is Carrie. The best friend who wouldn’t usually get the guy because she knows about jazz music and likes A League of Their Own. Although Carrie is arguably the most likeable character in this movie, her character is reduced to the best friend and the girlfriend almost immediately, eradicating any character development that could possibly happen.
It is possible to have a good romantic comedy movie. When Harry Met Sally, Love Actually, Pretty Woman: this handful of movies defined a genre that can’t keep up with the standards they set. When We First Met is no exception. If you want to watch something easy and switch off, this is the film for you. If you don’t enjoy watching less well-made versions of movies that already exist and are good in their own right (ahem, Groundhog Day, ahem), then this isn’t the film for you.