Noah (Adam Devine) falls in love with Avery (Alexandra Daddario), but has to resign himself to the fact that although they had a great first date together, it ended with a hug and nothing else happened between them. She then met, and fell in love with, the perfect Ethan (Robbie Amell). It's been three years since that fateful time, and Avery and Ethan are getting engaged, which leads Noah to get horribly drunk and then encounter a magical photobooth that he once used with Avery, which takes him back to his first time meeting her. Can he change the outcome, and will he like what happens?
Having seen many people mention that this is a romcom riff on Groundhog Day, I can tell you that it's not. Not really. It's a romcom riff on The Butterfly Effect. There's a difference between the two. And that difference is big when it comes to how the film plays out, because When We First Met could have been a lot better than it is, and a lot funnier, if it was hewing closer to the former than the latter.
The cast don't help. As much as I like Devine, I don't think of him as the best choice for a rom-com lead, although he doesn't do too bad here. Daddario is also fine, but she's the sort of actress I can always imagine being bumped for any number of better actresses. Amell does well with his fairly limited role, and Shelley Hennig is decent enough as Carrie, Avery's roommate. It's just a shame that her character is twisted to put together a third act that doesn't feel in line with the rest of the film. Andrew Bachelor fairs a bit better, playing Noah's best friend, Max.
The script by John Whittington doesn't have much going for it beyond the potential fun of the central premise, which is squandered at almost every opportunity. This could have crammed in so many fun failures as Noah tried to change his life. We instead just get a few specific scenarios as Noah is rushed to his big life lesson. Director Ari Sandel doesn't do anything to improve upon the script, relying on the talents of his leads, which again makes it easier to reach the conclusion that there were probably better options than Devine and Daddario to put in the lead roles.
Despite the problems, When We First Met isn't actually a bad film. It's just an average film. There aren't enough laughs, you don't REALLY care that much about the characters, the time travel is fun but not used as well as it should be, and it's passable entertainment when it could have been something much more enjoyable.
As this is another Netflix film, you can avoid a link of me pimping out sales links here.