When We First Met review

From left to right: Robbie Amell, Alexandra Daddario and Adam DeVine


Short Review (No Spoilers)

The premise of this movie is as follows: Noah (played by Adam DeVine) is into Avery (played by Alexandra Daddario). Avery is with someone else. Noah met Avery first and their first meeting led to an evening full of chemistry but it’s soon apparent that in present day, they are not together. Noah discovers a way to travel back in time. You can see where this is going.

This movie wasn’t too bad. It was a little formulaic, which is a whopping huge surprise! The ending was kind of predictable after a certain point, but the journey was okay enough to keep me watching.

The dialogue was funny often, though occasionally a joke fell flat for me easily, and on occasion the comedy was just stupid and problematic. The chemistry between cast members was decent.

Having said that, for me a lot of that was down to Adam DeVine. I’ve seen him in a couple of movies before and when he’s not being over the top, I quite enjoy him. Occasionally, I’ve wished that he would try a more serious role and see how that works for him, but as it stands, he does comedy well and seems to be perfectly cast in this movie

There are some obvious tropes in this movie, and some annoying behaviour and choices, and the pedant in me questioned quite a few things, but overall, if you’ve got nothing better to do and you want to watch a light romance, this movie fits the bill. Kinda. Just don’t expect too much from it.

I’d give it a 6/10


Some rambling thoughts, with Spoilers

So, this will be more of a rehash of the movie with some of my thoughts.

Since “When We First Met” is a time travel movie, there are some specific elements that are repeated throughout (but in different ways) to illustrate cause and effect.

The first meeting between Avery and Noah takes place in a Halloween party (I’ll refer to it as The Party from now) and the following things happen:

  • A drunk man dressed as the Hulk comes through a crowd toward Avery, but Noah manages to either get Avery out of the way or takes her place in getting bumped by Hulk. This is how they meet.
  • At some point in the night, they take pics together in a photobooth
  • At one point they are outside, and a couple falls into the swimming pool and starts kissing
  • Avery’s best friend and roommate, Carrie (played by Shelley Hennig), is also at the party and ends up kissing her ex-boyfriend, only to end up heartbroken at home, where Avery goes to comfort her
  • Noah is at Avery’s place and eats all her cereal. This causes her to go shopping the next day to get more…
  • And that how is she meets Ethan, her Present Day love (played by Robbie Amell).

So, keeping all of those in mind, I can go through a rough list of how they change with along with some other additions.

Noah’s ability to travel back in time is facilitated by the photobooth where he and Avery took pictures. He ends up in it three years after their meeting, drunk and taking pics, and wishing he could’ve done things differently. And it turns out the photobooth is magical! Excellent. No explanation for this, totally glossed over; fine for movie purposes, but holy hell, I had questions. Does it work for everyone? Or only sad people hanging onto the hope of a love that’ll never happen? Is there a specific ritual and phrasing needed in the wish to travel back or is it just mental intent? Who made this thing? How? What? Questions!

Noah’s first attempt in changing how things play out with Avery start off with him meeting Carrie first. Carrie is doing a photoshoot for a pair of newlyweds and Noah happens to run into her, recognises her and starts talking to her. He does not make a good first impression. When he goes to The Party that night, he uses everything he knows about Avery from three years of friendship to end up at her place. However, when Carrie turns up at the end of the night, she recognises Noah from earlier in the day and given that Noah revealed he knew more about Avery, Carrie and The Party than he should, Carrie is convinced he is a stalker. So does Avery.

Carrie knocks out Noah and when he wakes up, he is back in the present. But this time, when he goes to meet Avery at her place, she recognises him as a stalker from three years earlier, not as a close friend.

So, at this point, I was appreciating this whole cause-and-effect premise that’s been set up, which also sets up the formula for the rest of the movie. Noah’s affections for Avery are the driving motivation behind his repeated attempts to change things.

The second attempt, Noah takes some bad advice from his friend, Max (played by King Bach), and ends up acting like an asshole towards Avery the whole time. This kind of pissed me off, to be honest. It’s so overdone and just keeps perpetuating this long-tired trope about how acting like a dick will get you the girl. I’m not sure how this is something that happens in a movie released in 2018. I hoped the movie would have Avery tell him to fuck off, and she sort of did. At first. But in this iteration of The Party, Avery pushes Noah into the pool, and he pulls her in after he feigns needing help to get out. And what happens? Apparently, this behaviour is enough to make them both hot for each other even more, and they end up being the kissing couple in the pool this time.

Really? I rolled my eyes hard at this. Why Avery decided she was into him after all, I’ll never know.

The present day situation for this iteration leads to Avery and Noah having a fuckbuddy relationship with no emotional commitment, even though Noah wants more and behaves oddly (in Avery’s perspective) by spooning her in bed.

I kind of appreciate this on one level because Noah clearly commits to making a decision and sticking to that kind of pretence, but I also find this absurd. This iteration shows that his decision affects Avery, too, as she has maintained this sexual relationship on and off for three years and her own malleability comes into light. But it also doesn’t make sense to me unless it’s an expression of chemistry neither of them can deny. Which means the movie shows that there is some chemistry, but it’s only sexual when he’s a dick? I don’t know. On the other hand, at least we’re seeing Noah’s actions are having a definitive effect on other people besides himself. It’s also interesting to me because Avery comes across as kind and warm in the other iterations, but when she interacts with anyone other than Noah, some of that comes back. She isn’t completely different, and given that in another iteration we find out she’s into stability and grown-ups, it made less sense for me that she would maintain that kind of dynamic with Noah. I might be overthinking this, though!

It was also at this point I found myself questioning the idea of the writers deciding that Noah would have no memory of the preceding three years until things happen. For example, he has no idea he has dyed his hair to match his asshole image in the second iteration. It doesn’t really make sense to me, but I guess it was put in for the comedic purposes of Noah realising things about himself in a funny way? There’s one occasion when he realises he can speak with a Chinese businessman in his native language in the third iteration and it is framed comically.

The second iteration is also notable for one more thing. After going for a run to prove he is better than Ethan at being athletic, he hurts himself and ends up sitting with Carrie while she patches him up. Carrie is a no-bullshit person who makes it clear she doesn’t like him. I like Carrie. He asks Carrie why Avery isn’t into him and how he can make it happen. He asks Carrie to help him smarten up and get Avery and she is surprised and suspicious. But the conversation eventually makes him realise he needs to be grown up and responsible. Like Ethan.

Which leads us to his third attempt. This time at The Party, he is quite responsible, quite nice, and presents himself as mature and grown-up, someone who has it all figured out. In this iteration he looks after Drunk Hulk as well as a couple of others at the party.

In this present day situation, he is engaged to Avery, so he has finally achieved what he wanted. He also has a high-paying job, because he took a job in the same firm as his friend, Max, and ended up getting the promotion that Max wanted, so they’re no longer friends. Noah can afford a mansion and a Porsche. Clearly, he and Avery want for nothing. Carrie lives with them. And they have an engagement party that night.

The kicker? Noah is too busy to be around a lot of the time and he soon discovers Avery doesn’t love him, something he briefly discusses with Carrie, who thinks he is a good guy and tells him Avery does care for him. Notably, in this iteration, Noah’s drunk guy routine in the original sequence of events is now the same routine that Ethan carries out. Ethan has carried a torch for Avery and even tells her he is in love with her. When Noah drives him home, Ethan tells him this, and says that Avery’s reply was: “I wish things were different.”

I don’t get why Avery is with him if she doesn’t love him. It doesn’t exactly put her character in a good light. This time Noah wasn’t a dick and he was everything she wanted, but the love is not there. It’s another point about having chemistry with someone or not, which is fair enough, but the fact is, she stays with him when she could have a heart-to-heart and go her own way… and doesn’t. I’m also impressed with the thought that Noah is now this upstanding, hard-working man based on the result of one decision.

I think this is also where I discovered I found the movie kind of annoying because Noah doesn’t have to remember the three years between Party and Present. He just makes one decision and suddenly he has a world of difference to play around with. It feels unrealistic given people make decisions every day and sometimes they fail to adhere to changes they’re attempting to implement in their own lives. It’s just never that easy; habits die hard.

I suppose it speaks a lot to Noah’s character that he manages to maintain a change when he commits, but the fact that he’s doing it to get a woman, taints it for me. I don’t mind the thought of someone inspiring change in someone, and often, I’ve found couples grow as they learn from one another, but the movie doesn’t really show that process.

There’s also the weird, possible implication that every time he makes one of these changes and sticks to it, he effectively changes his personality, and yet doesn’t? Does he even have one? How is he happy just doing all that and never quite being himself? Or do we believe that those decisions he makes in pursuit of Avery, effectively implant a new personality, and set of behaviours and he just embodies those? So, then, who is Noah? Is that how it works? Honestly, given all the different iterations, Noah’s potential does shine through quite well.

During this third iteration he realises Carrie is the only person he’s been himself with, because he has expressed his doubts and fears and been honest with the way he feels towards Avery. BUT, in this one, he also finally accepts the idea of stopping his pursuit of Avery. I was quite glad he came to this realisation.

Fourth iteration. This time he finds Ethan and forces him to go to The Party. Now Ethan is the guy who stops the Drunk Hulk, witnesses the kissing pool couple with Avery, and ends up in the photobooth with Avery.

Noah spends all his time making sure Avery and Ethan do everything the way it went in the original sequence, but with Ethan taking the place of Noah. While doing all this, he spends all his time with Carrie and discovers he has far better chemistry with her, and far more in common. In fact, as an example, it turns out that the jazz stuff Avery liked to begin with, was because of Carrie.

Now we have Avery and Ethan as the couple, and Noah is interested in Carrie. But in the present for this iteration, Noah and Carrie haven’t been together since the party and she’s with the same ex-boyfriend who broke her heart in the original sequence. Presumably, because of Noah taking up Carrie’s attention and thus ensuring she doesn’t interact with her ex, she never has a reason to hate him and decide she never wants to get back with him.

A fifth iteration happens. This time Noah just lets everything play out as it should. Three years later, he meets with Carrie at Avery and Ethan’s engagement party, they hit it off, and that’s it!

So, all in all… I liked the characters. Most of the time. Avery was annoying at times, Noah didn’t always make sense to me, but Carrie was great. Ethan was underdeveloped. The chemistry was pretty good between all of them. Max was just an annoyance and felt more like a plot contrivance to ensure Noah could get the job he needed to be responsible and grown-up.

I do appreciate that the movie didn’t have Noah end up with Avery, because he was quite manipulative in changing himself and events, in his pursuit of her. And at least he was his authentic self with Carrie and that worked out fine. I will say, it still felt like he had an advantage, but given the premise of the movie, that can’t really be taken away.

I almost wish the movie had fewer iterations of the Present so that some changes could be explored more fully. To begin with, one way I would’ve changed the movie was to have Avery completely dismiss him in the iteration where he behaves like an asshole, so it isn’t rewarded in any way whatsoever. And the iteration where he’s responsible could be more fully explored in how much he had changed from the original Noah. It could’ve been interesting to see how Noah attempts to balance who he is trying to become, against his own nature. Another major change I would’ve made would be to devote more time to Noah interacting with Carrie and developing that side of the story more. Since it is a movie, however, I can see that being difficult and this feels like something that would be better explored in a novel.

All in all, it was an easy watch, and it was interesting at least, because it had that added fantasy component of the time travel, even if it didn’t feel fully thought out. I am a bit biased because time travel elements are always interesting to me.

I give this movie a: 6/10


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Zen Wick has a passion for writing sci-fi and low fantasy, as well as the occasional crack fiction. He loves video games, art and procrastination. Will occasionally think about Big Topics.


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