Sony // 2012 // 95 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // April 4th, 2013
Nervous is normal.
Dave (Dylan O'Brien, MTV's Teen Wolf) is the kind of nice guy that high school girls seem to avoid like the plague. He's decent and earnest and is heading to college in the fall. Still, he maintains a mad crush on his longtime friend, a hot girl in his class named Jane (Victoria Justice, Zoey 101). Hanging out at a house party one night, ready to confess his feelings, he runs into another nice gal named Aubrey (Britt Robertson, Scream 4). She's suffering through her own romantic travails (her "boyfriend" is a butthead) and tries to advise Dave on what to do. Before she can really succeed, the police step in and our new couple head home. Over the next few days, they will talk (and talk, and talk, and talk) about love and life, about sex and the struggles of coming to terms with who they are. Will they hook up? This is a movie, right?
Young love is just that -- young. It's immature and unripe, like newly bottled wine or a recently corked Scotch. With age comes wisdom, experience, and the most important thing, context. When we initially fall "in love" (which is a bit of a misnomer, since we never really experience that legitimate level of commitment) we typically do so for all the wrong reasons. In most cases, love is confused with lust, or misunderstood sexual desire, or a desperate need to find acceptance within a social structure filled with rejection (read: middle and/or high school). Yes, some will find their soul mate within these novice needs, but the truth is much more telling. Think back on your first real crush, your (or what you considered to be) first legitimate boy or girlfriend. Now imagine being with them today, with all the years that have passed and the changes that have come about in your life.
Young love is just that.
So it's refreshing to see The First Time attempt to address such neophyte acknowledgments. Writer/director Jon Kasdan, whose entertainment lineage includes famed father Lawrence and equally well known brother Jake, may be a bit long winded in his insights, but he creates characters who act their age, and more importantly, act their emotional IQ. The First Time is not some snarky coming of age saga where our stars squeal smarmy bon mots as we sit back in smug self-satisfaction. It's also not a realistic look at adolescent love. At its heart, this is a fairytale, it's what young love should be but really never is. It features winning performances from its cast, some interesting choices from the director, and an overall feel of knowledge without being insular. Sure, it's slight and sometimes superficial, but for the most part, this movie makes sense. We see what Dave is doing wrong, how Aubrey is better for him, and in the long run why Jane is a joke. We root for our couple which is all a RomCom really needs.
As for the DVD delivered by Sony, the specs are decent. Kasdan is not a flashy filmmaker, but the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen image looks excellent. The transfer captures the colors and details with polish and professionalism. Sonically, we get a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that can be best described as "elemental." There's no real immersion, no desire to treat us to some sensationalized multi-speaker experience. The dialogue is easily discernible and the musical score sounds sweet. As for added content, well, look elsewhere. This disc offers no bonus features.
It's rare when someone can claim that a fictional film about teen romance and young love feels authentic and real. The First Time captures some of that sentiment, that is, when it's not overstaying its communicative welcome. If talk is cheap, this film is a real penny pincher.
Not guilty. A bit too wordy, but overall, leaves one feeling fulfilled.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13