Saturday, October 20, 2012
Review: The First Time
I'm not going to lie: for the longest time, I was convinced this movie was some sort of collective hallucination by the fangirls on Tumblr, since the official trailer wasn't even released until several weeks ago, despite the massive amount of .gifs that exist for it. Luckily for myself and all of my fellow Dylan O'Brien fans, this is, in fact, a real movie, and it was released in theaters yesterday...if you live in New York City, Los Angeles, or Phoenix.
I'm not sure why Phoenix and not, say, Chicago, but I strongly suspect - though it isn't really confirmed - that the movie takes place in Phoenix? At least, one of the characters mentions Scottsdale Road, and not saying there couldn't be a Scottsdale Road in other cities, but when I hear Scottsdale, I think, you know, Scottsdale. Also, I used to work in Scottsdale, and the ridiculous houses that some of these characters live in leads me to believe that that's where it's set.
The story of The First Time is simple and well-known: two high school students, Dave (O'Brien) and Aubrey (Britt Robertson), meet at a party on Friday night and have an instant connection, as so often happens in movies of this genre. The obstacles to their budding romance include his massive crush on his friend Jane (Victoria Justice) and her older boyfriend, Ronny (James Frecheville). Not to mention that they have literally only known each other for a couple of days, since the film takes place between Friday night and Monday morning.
I have read a couple of reviews that compare this film to Say Anything or a John Hughes movie like Sixteen Candles, but given the subject matter I was reminded of The Sure Thing (also starring John Cusack, I think I'm beginning to see a pattern - but it's kind of hard not to, John Cusack was in a lot of these types of movies in the 80s). All of these films have one thing in common in that they're coming of age tales about the trials and tribulations of young love. (Also, they're all awesome.)
The film relies heavily on dialogue, which makes sense - the timeline only spans a matter of days and these are high school kids, not Jason Bourne, so a lot of the movie consists of heartfelt discussions about whether or not virginity is meant to be something preciously guarded and what the characters want to do after high school. I think a lot of people will relate to it, both teenagers who are living through those awkward years right now and us older folks who fondly remember what it was like. Not that I have many fond memories of high school, but you get the idea.
Anyway, I am a massive, massive fan of Dylan O'Brien to the point where it's kind of embarrassing, considering my age, but I tried not to let that bias my opinion of The First Time. To be honest, it probably did, but I like to think that I would have enjoyed it just as much with someone else in the main role. Regardless, I think he did a fabulous job and was definitely one of the, if not the, high points of the film. He really held his own, and I think he could be this generation's John Cusack (since we were just talking about him). Because really, he's perfect in these types of roles - he's adorable, he has great comedic timing, and he's attractive but not in an unapproachable or intimidating way. Dave Hodgman is, essentially, Lloyd Dobler or Lane Meyer or Walter Gibson or...some other John Cusack role from the 80s, he had a ton of them.
Dave's best friends Simon (Craig Roberts) and Big Corporation (Lamarcus Tinker) are hilarious. Simon, biting and British, blunders through the film acting like he knows everything about women when he really knows nothing, but Big Corporation reminded me strongly of Silent Bob. Anyone who has ever seen Chasing Amy will see the similarities, especially during Big Corporation's monologue in the diner near the end of the movie.
The other high point of the film, for me at least, was the soundtrack. I have been unable to find a soundtrack listing anywhere and am seriously considering seeing the movie again just to write down the songs as they scroll up the screen during the ending credits. Seriously. The only song I know is The Naked and Famous's "Girls Like You", and that's because it was in the trailer.
If you're able (like, if you live in one of the three cities in which this movie is actually showing) and you like sweet romantic comedies that are cute and endearing, you should see this movie. If you're a fan of Dylan O'Brien and his adorable spasticness, you should definitely see this movie. No, seriously, if you live anywhere near those three cities you should make plans to go see it. If you live near NYC I can tell you that it's playing at the AMC Empire on 42nd St and the Village 7 on 3rd Ave.