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The First Time (2012)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 3/12/2013

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Extras: No Extras

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/13/2013

Unlike in years past, we really don't hear much about powerful Hollywood families anymore. There used to be stories about the Barrymores, the Hustons, and the Zanucks. The only real dynasty that one can easily trace days are the Coppola's and their extended family. But, that doesn't mean that there aren't other, less overt families out there. Lawrence Kasdan co-wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. He also directed Body Heat and The Big Chill. His older son, Jake, also went into filmmaking, having directed Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and Bad Teacher. His youngest son, Jon, joined the family business as well, having done some acting, writing for TV shows like Dawson's Creek, and moving into feature films. The First Time is his second movie.

The First Time opens with an awkward scene. High school student Dave (Dylan O'Brien) is standing in an alley behind a house where a major party is taking place. He wants to go in and talk to his friend, Jane (Victoria Justice). He has a major crush on Jane, but he knows that she's in there with her boyfriend. A girl named Aubrey (Brittany Robertson) then enters the alley. She's there for the party as well, but it's not really her kind of scene. The two begin to talk, having an oddly deep conversation about relationship and the politics of high school, when the party is busted up by the police. Dave agrees to walk Aubrey home and when they get there, she invites him inside, where they talk all night (with Dave falling asleep in her floor). Thus begins a wild weekend in which Dave attempts to go back to his normal life of pining after Jane, but finds that he can't get Aubrey out of his mind. Meanwhile, Aubrey begins to realize that she can't stand her boyfriend, Ronny (James Frecheville), and that she wants to see Dave again.

This is going to sound very hypocritical at first, but bear with me. I'm not an advocate of teenage "love". Teenage "love" is all about hormones and giddiness and the thrill of the chase and impressing your friends -- it's not really love. I'm the first person to yell "Dude, you're like 12!" at the television whenever an "I love you so much that my world is going to end!" teenage love story is on. Having said that, and given my viewpoint of today, I remember those exciting feelings of teenage "love" and admire a movie which can accurately portray them. While it may not be the end all be all that it seems at the time, being in "love" at that time in one's life is special. The First Time does a fairly good job of capture that feeling.

With The First Time, Kasdan, who wrote and directed the movie, has made some interesting choices. As noted above, the opening scene really sets the tone for the movie. Despite what the title may imply, this isn't a raunchy sex comedy. We are introduced to two intelligent and reasonably sensible teenagers who are comfortable simply hanging out and talking. They don't have to be like their peers who feel the need to party. Both Dave and Aubrey are attractive, but not in a garish way. It's also interesting to note how rational the two are. Aubrey goes to a different high school, so at first, Dave decides that he'll just go back to his old life, as there's no use dating someone who doesn't go to his school. As mentioned, the story takes place over one weekend. Again, this may imply some wild ride, but Kasdan uses this framework to show just how quickly you can feel comfortable with someone if they are the right person. The movie gets a huge boost from the likable quality of O'Brien, although I find it interesting that he's basically playing the same character as he does on Teen Wolf. On that show, he's ignored by the girls, while here, he's involved with two.

Those points make it sound as if The First Time is an overly intellectual movie, but it isn't at all. There's still plenty of teenaged goofiness in it and comic relief provided by Dave's British friend Simon (Craig Roberts) and his sidekick, Big Corporation (Lamarcus Tinker). Kasdan has simply taken an approach which portrays teenagers as more than lust-filled idiots. He's clearly taking some cues from other movies. There's certainly a John Hughes vibe to the whole thing and Dave is somewhat reminiscent of Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything. The who Simon and Big Corporation thing really reminded me of Jay and Silent Bob from Kevin Smith's movies. Kasdan has taken these various elements and created a movie which can be described by a word I rarely use in reviews: thoughtful.

Of course, The First Time isn't for everyone and it does have some minor flaws. Those looking for a wild comedy will find the movie slow and overly talky. Some may not buy how quickly Dave and Aubrey hit if off. While I liked Aubrey, she's yet another one of those too-cool alternative music girls which seem to pop up in every movie these days -- I would have liked to have seen Kasdan give us something a little different. Speaking of which, I wish the movie had explored Jane's character, who is almost portrayed as a villain, more. I knew plenty of girls like that in high school -- those who have a boyfriend, but feel closer and more comfortable with their male "friends". Ultimately, The First Time is too quiet of a film to be a crowd-pleaser, but those looking for a different kind of movie about teenagers may find something to like.

The First Time features some painfully awful make-out music on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture is a bit soft at times, which messes with the amount of detail. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are well-done and show good separation. The party scenes display nice surround sound and we can pick out a few individual sounds from the rear speakers. Music offers some subwoofer action.

The First Time DVD contains no special features.

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.