A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that When We First Met is a lighthearted comedy with a tried-and-true premise: A man (Adam Devine) who wants to be more than friends with the girl of his dreams (Alexandra Daddario) goes back in time to get a second chance with her. The characters are young adults in a big city with all the challenges that make meeting "the one," falling in love, and sustaining a fulfilling relationship difficult. They party a lot, so you can expect plenty of drinking, sometimes to excess. The language is playful but coarse; characters use words including "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "piss off," and "d--k" frequently, as well as insults like "douchebag," "butthole," and "tranny." There's no overt sexuality or nudity, but characters make out at parties, kiss, wake up in bed after implied sex, and talk casually about sex and intimacy. A few comic scuffles show the hero under "assault" by a woman who brandishes a small tree as a weapon.
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What's the story?
Noah Ashby (Adam Devine) just can't get it right in WHEN WE FIRST MET. He met Avery Martin (Alexandra Daddario), the girl of his dreams, on Halloween three years before the movie opens, but after one spectacular night together, the relationship has evolved into a friendship -- at least, from Avery's point of view. So when Noah discovers that the magic of an old photo booth can transport him back three years in time -- to the night they first met -- he thinks he's got it made. He gets a do-over. Two do-overs. Even three. But turning into a suave playboy doesn't help; neither does his attempt at "assertive hyper-male." When being even a rich, powerful businessman doesn't work, Noah's forced to accept that maybe he's simply not right for Avery. Complicating his efforts, of course, are Ethan (Robbie Amell), whose movie-star good looks and gentle nature appeal to the young woman, and Avery's best friend, Carrie (Shelley Hennig), who has no patience for Noah's antics. It isn't until Noah begins to take a hard look at what he values most and who he really is that things seem to turn around. Even then, it requires a little more help from the photo booth and a little more insight than he ever knew he possessed to make his dreams come true.
Is it any good?
This by-the-numbers time-travel comedy is predictable and short on originality, but some lively performances -- particularly Shelley Hennig as Carrie -- make it passable for young adult audiences. Ari Sandel and his filmmaking team use some familiar concepts (i.e., "Zoltar Speaks" from Big is now an antique photo booth), and Adam Devine tries hard to turn his goofball persona into a lovable charmer, but romantic comedies (even lowbrow ones) fare best when the characters have at least a dash of depth. And when the stories are fresh. Neither happens in When We First Met. The personalities Noah adopts are never authentic or likable. And, sharing a penchant for jazz and homilies ("some things are meant to be") do not a relationship make. Still, viewers can expect some laughs, sweet moments, and a happy ending for all involved.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how movies like When We First Met so often show young adults drinking and getting drunk as an integral part of their social lives. Do you think this "normalizes" the abuse of alcohol? Why or why not? At what age is it most important to speak to kids about the dangers of alcohol abuse? How does/did your family handle the matter?
Why is it so appealing to think about having a do-over? Since it's not possible in most circumstances, in what other ways might you be able to fix a mistake that you have made? Can an apology ever serve as a do-over?
Why do you think movies and stories about time travel are so appealing? Write a short time travel story about a moment in time you'd like to return to. How would you behave differently to have a better outcome?
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