You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The First Time

This competently crafted teen romance proves perilously short on substance, insight and novelty.

With: Britt Robertson, Dylan O'Brien, Victoria Justice, Craig Roberts, James Frecheville, Lamarcus Tinker, Joshua Malina, Christine Taylor, Maggie Jones, Halston Sage.

Boy meets girl, and after getting to know each other a smidge, they experience “The First Time” together in Jonathan Kasdan’s second feature. Not much more complicated than that nutshell outline, this teen romance proves perilously short on substance, insight and novelty, unless you count its characters being afflicted with a case of “Juno” mouth. Competently crafted pic is too earnest to qualify as a teen sex comedy and too glossily handled to pass as a naturalistic slice of life. Viewers in the leads’ age group may find enough to identify with to make this a viable item for smallscreen vendors.

Dave (Dylan O’Brien) and Aubrey (Britt Robertson) cross paths outside a house party where neither of them knows anyone. During their long, overwritten initial encounter, we find out that he’s a senior heading east soon for college, while she’s a junior at a different high school. She has an older “sorta” boyfriend, Ronny (James Frecheville), while he’s nursing a crush on a girl (Victoria Justice) who sees him just as a friend. Dave walks Aubrey home, then both accidentally fall asleep during a chaste cuddle on her bedroom floor, prompting a wacky emergency rooftop escape the next morning.

Practically everything here has been done before, to better ends than the very mildly cute effect the writer-helmer manages. Over the weekend’s remaining course, Dave wonders if Aubrey likes him and vice versa, tiny complications arise, and finally they decide to “do it,” at which point further complications occur, then are resolved. It’s hard to care much that these two have found each other, since nothing about their story or personalities is at all unusual or interesting.

Kasdan obviously intended otherwise; he studiously avoids the raunchy broad humor usually associated with such tales. But if he’s aiming for the pic to have a fresh, unvarnished real-teens-now feel, his modestly scaled but slick presentation and self-consciously clever verbiage are counterproductive, particularly since the latter (mainly Aubrey’s dialogue) is more strenuous than sharp. It also doesn’t work because the far-from-average protags are genetic lottery winners, living in the kind of upscale L.A. hood where every house has a pool, and every pool has a waterfall or two. Pic doesn’t offer any perspective on that milieu, or even try to.

Supporting figures offer the expected “quirky comic relief, sans inspiration. Mostly TV-drafted performers acquit themselves adequately, but don’t find the spark to transcend the simultaneously overpolished and underdeveloped script. Result isn’t exactly a failure, just a kinda-humorous, kinda-serious movie that never seems to justify the effort spent making it.

Packaging is pro, with the usual genre trappings of wall-to-wall indie-rock tunes.

The First Time

Production: A Jerimaca Film production. Produced by Martin Shafer, Liz Glotzer. Executive producers, Liah Kim, Carol Fuchs. Directed, written by Jonathan Kasdan.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Rhet Bear; editor, Hugh Ross; music, Alec Puro; music supervisors, Manish Raval, Tom Wolfe, Jonathan Leavy; production designer, Keith Cunningham; set decorator, Lisa Sessions; costume designer, Michele Posch; sound, Douglas Axtel; assistant director, Mark Trapenberg; casting, Amy McIntyre Britt, Anya Colloff. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 21, 2012. Running time: 100 MIN.

Cast: With: Britt Robertson, Dylan O'Brien, Victoria Justice, Craig Roberts, James Frecheville, Lamarcus Tinker, Joshua Malina, Christine Taylor, Maggie Jones, Halston Sage.

More Scene

  • Laurie Metcalf, John Lithgow'Hillary and Clinton'

    Why John Lithgow Worried About Starring in Broadway's 'Hillary and Clinton'

    When Lucas Hnath first conceived of “Hillary and Clinton” in 2008, he was writing for and about a very different America. Now, a total reimagining of the show has made its way to Broadway with Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in the titular roles. At the opening on Thursday night, the cast and creatives talked [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Took 12 Years to Get to Broadway, but It's More Relevant Than Ever

    When “Hadestown” was first staged as a tiny, DIY theater project in Vermont, those involved could never have predicted that it was the start of a 12-year journey to Broadway — or how painfully relevant it would be when it arrived. At Wednesday night’s opening at the Walter Kerr Theatre, the cast and creatives discussed [...]

  • Mick Jagger

    Mick Jagger Makes First Post-Surgery Appearance at Rolling Stones Ballet Premiere

    Rock legend Mick Jagger made his first public appearance post-heart surgery on Thursday night to catch a glimpse of the world premiere of the Rolling Stones ballet “Porte Rouge.” “I hope you are going to enjoy this wonderful new ballet, and, of course, the music,” the frontman declared in a pre-recorded message to the audience [...]

  • Adam Driver appears at the curtain

    Adam Driver on Starring in 'Burn This' for a Second Time

    The Hudson Theatre’s new production of “Burn This” marks its first Broadway revival since it premiered on the Great White Way in 1987, but Adam Driver is no stranger to the work. He starred as Pale in a Juilliard production of the Lanford Wilson drama when he was still a student — and only now, [...]

  • PMC Event Rome

    Film, Fashion, Formula E Mix at Rome E-Prix Bash

    Film, fashion and Formula E auto-racing fused during a dinner and celebration of the Rome E-Prix on Thursday at the Palazzo Dama by the Piazza del Popolo in the heart of the Eternal City.  Guests mingled and sipped cocktails as hors d’oeuvres were passed around in a former home of the Italian nobility with conversation [...]

  • Katy Perry, Diane von Furstenberg, Arianna

    Katy Perry and Anita Hill Honored at the DVF Awards

    Katy Perry was among the honorees at the 10th Annual DVF Awards on Thursday night. The singer was recognized for her advocacy work with both UNICEF and the LGBTQ community. “Music has opened the doors for so many opportunities for me,” she said while accepting the inspiration award. “The ability to meet people and champion [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content