As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, I like to enjoy more time outside. Even still, when I come back home, it is nice to have something really good to watch. This week, I recommend a movie and two series: a fun romantic comedy, a docuseries, and a dark and twisty drama.
For when the mood for a silly romcom strikes, Netflix offers When We First Met. In the movie, Noah (Adam Devine) is seriously hung up on his friend Avery (Alexandra Daddario). He gets so drunk at the party celebrating her engagement to hunky Ethan (Robbie Amell) that he has to be driven home early by Avery’s best friend Carrie (Shelley Hennig). Later, Noah finds that an oldtimey photo booth can transport him back to the night that he and Avery first met so that he can change the course of events in hopes that Avery will fall for him instead of Ethan, who she met the next day. Noah finds that every time he changes that night, the long term consequences are different than he anticipated.
When We First Met is a charming romantic comedy perfect for a night at home on the couch. Although fairly formulaic, the story is not quite as predictable as it first seemed, and once I did see where the story was going, the journey was still enjoyable. Adam Devine has become a go-to for the best friend character in romantic comedies, probably because of his Jack Black-style sense of humor, and this movie does a good job of using him in a way that moves the sidekick into the leading man role, much like his part in Isn’t it Romantic?
This movie does suffer from a lack of diversity, with Noah’s friend Max (Andrew Bachelor) representing the only character of color in a highly stereotypical role. It also features some clunky dialogue. Often, however, when we turn to this genre, we are looking for a quick fix of sweetness and easygoing humor and When We First Met delivers on both counts.
This Netflix Original was directed by Ari Sandel and written by John Whittington. It runs 1 hour 37 minutes and is rated TV-14.
Also streaming on Netflix is the spectacular documentary series Our Planet directed and narrated by legendary British filmmaker David Attenborough. This stunning series creates a vivid portrait of the complex ecosystems that comprise our planet and the way that climate change threatens to throw off the delicate balance that supports these habitats and the creatures who live in them. The series includes awe inspiring wildlife footage and sweeping images of the natural world. Attenborough’s narration is precise, often funny, and deeply moving as he explains what is at risk as these ecosystems change. Our Planet is gorgeous, informative, and engaging. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Our Planet is rated TV-PG and runs for 8 episodes, each about 50 minutes long.
For something a little darker, check out the Hulu Original, The Act, which dramatizes the story of Dee Dee (Patricia Arquette) and Gypsy Rose Blanchard (Joey King). In this case of truth being stranger than fiction, a mother and daughter are locked in an abusive relationship with deadly consequences, as Gypsy Rose grows old enough to start pulling at the threads of an elaborate case of Munchausen by Proxy and rebelling against her mom. The series also stars Chloe Sevigny and AnnaSophia Robb as the Blanchards’ neighbors, Mel and Lacey.
Created by Nick Antosca and Michelle Dean and rated TV-MA, the eight episode series takes a deep dive into the case first popularized in the documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest. Although it is a factionalized drama, and therefore should be taken with a truckload of salt, there is some real intrigue in seeing this bizarre case fleshed out with character portraits of Dee Dee and Gypsy. The performances by Arquette and King are fantastic, and, although there is a salacious element to the series, they do a wonderful job making the women three dimensional, complicated characters. This series is good for a binge watch on a rainy weekend.
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