Netflix’s Time Travel Rom-Com ‘When We First Met’ Challenges The Friendzone Mold

How far are you willing to (time)travel to get out of the friendzone? That controversial concept is tested in the new Netflix original movie When We First Met starring Adam DeVine, Alexandra Daddario, Robbie Amell, Shelley Hennig, and Andrew Bachelor aka King Bach. The story is about the night that Noah (DeVine) and Avery (Daddario) first met — at a Halloween party back in 2014. The two had an immediate connection and spent the whole evening hanging out, but when Noah goes to make a move he gets friendzoned. Three years later, Avery is celebrating her engagement to Ethan (Amell) and Noah is still hung up on her, feeling that he lost out in his dream girl and he doesn’t understand why. Through a drunken turn of events, he discovers that the photo booth in the town’s local jazz bar, one of the stops on their magical 2014 Halloween evening, has time traveling abilities and now he’s finally got a chance to fix what went wrong on the night they first met.

You can watch my review of When We First Met, below:

When We First Me reminds me of Groundhogs Day meets Back to the Future meets Twelfth Night. With a typical Groundhogs Day premise, our main character ends up stuck in a loop reliving the same day or moment over and over again until they can somehow break that loop by learning something or achieving a goal. The time traveling Back to the Future-style storyline adds another element to this tale because Noah is actually living the same two days over and over again — the day he met Avery in 2014 and the day of Avery’s engagement party in 2017 — and he’s choosing to go back in time when he doesn’t like the new futures he’s created. Additionally, like Back to the Future, this film is very formulaic and repeats certain plot points over again in different ways.

Throughout the film, Noah time travels and attempts to reinvent himself multiple times in order to appeal to Avery. He goes from his typical lovable goofball self to a FWB fuccboi to a workaholic to an accidental stalker — but I thought Noah still retained a heart of gold and Adam DeVine really brought a goofy Jack Black quality to his comedy through it all. As the story goes along, no matter what Noah does — even when he ends up with Avery in the future — it’s never meant to be. It’s always supposed to be Avery and Ethan. I like that this film played with fate in that way and the idea that sometimes certain people come into your life for certain reasons. With that in mind, I actually didn’t see the plot twist coming. The twist being that *SPOILER ALERT* Noah was always supposed to meet Avery but so that they could be best friends, he could introduce her to Ethan, and he could get to know her best friend Carrie (Hennig)! While it was an interesting surprise, the issue was that it felt a bit like it came out of nowhere because the film was so focused on Noah trying to get out of the friendzone that we didn’t get a chance to really focus on the other characters as much. This is also where the Twelfth Night connection came in for me. Noah ends up learning that everything he liked about Avery, from her Halloween costume which initially enticed him to her love of jazz, was all Carrie’s influence. It was kind of a case of mistaken identity! While the two don’t immediately jump into a relationship or whirlwind romance, this spark of interest is a window of opportunity for Noah to get to know Carrie when he returns to the original present-day engagement party.

And, of course, the biggest takeaway from this film was the breaking of the friendzone mold. People typically feel as if they’ve been put in the friendzone when someone they like doesn’t like them back, but the friendzone is not a real place. The idea makes it seem like someone is purposely punishing you by not having the same feelings back. A better term to use may be unrequited love. I was glad to see Noah realize that what he was doing wasn’t cool and that Avery’s happiness and their friendship were more important and real than trying to force her into various situations where they are together but not truly happy. He becomes a true friend to her, even connecting her with her soulmate Ethan, and that bond was really heartwarming to see.

So when it comes to how far are you willing to (time)travel to get out of the friendzone? The answer is, well, the friendzone doesn’t exist.

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