The main character of First One In, Madi (Kat Foster), is somewhat of a nobody. She is an average (at best) realtor and has very few friends. In order to boost her confidence, meet new people, and do something different, she joins a popular television game show (similar to that of Survivor). When she’s disgracefully kicked off the show after a wildlife mishap, her world begins to crumble. Then Madi loses her job, becomes a social pariah, and struggles with depression. All of a sudden, Madi is given the opportunity of a lifetime. She is offered a position with overachieving real estate mogul Bobbi Mason (Georgia King), with one tiny stipulation: Madi must prove her worth on the tennis court. With her well-being and professional career on the line, Madi must do all that she can to prove that she does, in fact, have grit.
The opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the film. It lets audiences know that as the film progresses, audiences will be subjected to several ridiculous attempts at comedy. The comedy, for the most part, falls flat and is difficult to comprehend, though there are moments of subtle, dry humor that are successful and provide a chuckle or two. To further the mild disappointment of the humor, many of the characters throughout the film only aggravate the viewers. Their intellect is nonexistent, and, as they attempt to compensate for their obvious shortcomings, they endlessly antagonize Madi. These characters truly make certain parts of First One In difficult to watch.
An adequate understanding of tennis is required to appreciate the movie’s storyline. Characters often use terminology that might be unfamiliar to those who don’t frequently watch (or play) tennis. The comedy eliminates potential fans by choosing to take the tennis aspect of the film so seriously. With that being said, those who understand the game of tennis, its wonky terms, and appreciate the sport, will value the effort writer-director Gina O’Brien put forth when constructing First One In.
“…Madi must prove her worth on the tennis court.”
In all honesty, the plot is what saves the film from complete destruction. With wonky acting, irrefutably annoying characters, and hard-to-appreciate humor, the story’s ridiculousness is what gives the film life. However, even with the ugly beauty of the script, it lacks the urgency needed in order for the film to find true success. Neither Madi nor Bobbi appears to understand the importance of what is taking place, considering what’s on the line for them. Even with the weirdly interesting story, these actors’ inability to convey the necessary urgency in the film’s more dire moments makes it difficult for audiences to feel connected to the characters’ plights.
Audiences may be hard-pressed to say that First One In is low-budget. The sets are fabulous and mirror big Hollywood film sets. While the film is obviously put together by professionals, audiences most likely won’t expect Hollywood-level expertise when it comes to filming. But any apprehension is immediately shattered when they realize that the camera crew, led by director of photography Matthew Santo, does not mess around, and always manages to find the right shot.
From a comedy standpoint, First One In falls short of the expectations that I had before watching. The poorly delivered humor leaves a lot to be desired. However, from a technical standpoint, the movie is beautifully made and hits the nail on the head. As a fan of film (in its entirety), I find the film to be technically sound. That technical stability is what keeps it afloat and allows me to appreciate what has been done to ensure some level of success.
"…an adequate understanding of tennis is required to appreciate the movie..."