Jon Kasdan wrote and directed this wonderful teenage romantic comedy, one that recalls a certain type of movie that was mainstream twenty years ago. If you find yourself wishing they made movies like John Hughes did back in the day, I highly recommend The First Time.
Structured like a classic rom com, The First Time opens with the cute meet between Dylan O’Brien’s Dave and Britt Robertson’s Aubrey. He’s a senior in high school and she’s a junior at a neighboring school. Aubrey comes upon Dave pacing in the back alley behind a house where a raging party is taking place. He’s building his courage to tell his good friend Jane (Victoria Justice) how much he loves her. However, the party gets busted by the cops before he can speak to Jane, and he winds up in the company of the cute and bluntly honest Aubrey.
The two teens flee the scene and spend the night driving around. They wind up back at Aubrey’s house, where they try to act like adults, drinking red wine and discussing their virginity with a frankness that most strangers don’t have with each other. Both kids have never done the deed. In a nice twist, Dave is the one who wants to be romantic about sex for the first time, while Aubrey just wants to get it out of the way so she can move on.
The next day, the attraction between Dave and Aubrey is obvious, but they’re both conflicted about pursuing this new relationship. Dave still has feelings for Jane, but the connection with Aubrey feels so right. At the same time, Aubrey is dealing with her college-aged boyfriend (James Frenchville), one of those condescending assholes who looks down upon high school kids, even though he’s just year or two older than them. The First Time follows the first weekend of this relationship. Dave and Aubrey begin to fall in love and figure out what they’ve found is worth keeping.
O’Brien and Robertson nail their parts and really shine. They capture the confusion and excitement of being a teenager with great conviction. The supporting cast is equally great. Friday Night Light’s LaMarcus Tinker has a role as one of Dave’s friends, while Joshua Molina and Christine Taylor are excellent in their small roles as Aubrey’s parents. The standout of the supporting cast is Craig Roberts as Simon, Dave’s buddy who is full of wisdom. Roberts also starred in the great indie, Submarine, and he steals every scene he appears in.
Kasdan’s writing is funny and full of heart. The movie never gets too serious, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel realistic. Dave and Aubrey are believable kids and good people, the kind of teenagers you’ll enjoy hanging out with for a couple of hours. It’s a shame that The First Time didn’t get a wider exposure when it was picked up for distribution. Sadly, it had a limited theatrical release and headed straight to DVD and VOD. I hope that this review will inspire teenagers and grown-ups (who still have the hearts of teenagers) to check it out.