What If (CBS Films)
Rated PG-13 for sexual content, including references throughout, partial nudity and language.
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Megan Park, Adam Driver, Mackenzie Davis, Rafe Spall, Lucius Hoyos, Jemima Rooper, Tommie-Amber Pirie, Meghan Heffern, Jonathan Cherry, Rebecca Northan, Jordan Hayes, Oona Chaplin, Adam Fergus.
Written by Elan Mastai, based on the play “Toothpaste and Cigars” by T.J. Dawe and Michael Rinaldi.
Directed by Michael Dowse.
The trouble with romantic comedies is simple: You are introduced to two sympathetic characters who are obviously “made for each other,” and you spend the rest of the film wading through sight gags, cheesy dialogue and trumped-up conflict to arrive at a forgone conclusion. Rarely, a romantic comedy comes along that’s a little different; a movie with a clever twist, great performances and top-notch script. What If is one of those rare films that transcend the drudgery of rom-com clichés and leaves you with a positive outlook on love.
Daniel Radcliffe stars as Wallace, a med school dropout living in Toronto on the rebound from a terrible breakup with one of his fellow students. One night, he attends a party at the home of Allan (Adam Driver), his old college roommate. He meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan), and the pair hit it off as friends, even though Wallace knows she has a boyfriend named Ben (Rafe Spall). Wallace and Chantry decide to stay friends, even though they are obviously made for each other.
As time passes, the romantic tension increases until Wallace and Chantry must get over their friend hurdles (including the boyfriend and Wallace’s apprehension over love).
What If (actually released in other parts of the English-speaking world as “The F Word” – the “F” signifying “friend,” you sickos) is one of those rare rom-coms that is charming and not at all too sappy. It’s one of the best romantic comedies since 500 Days of Summer (2009), and on par with Ruby Sparks (2012), a film written by Zoe Kazan, who also starred in the title role. What If might draw comparisons to When Harry Met Sally (1989), another “friend zone” movie many consider the best rom-com of all time (no argument here).
I mentioned three things that make a romantic comedy work (clever twist, great performances and excellent script). What If gets two out of three (sans the clever twist), but a good cast with great chemistry and great dialogue make up for the predictable nature of all rom-coms.
Radcliffe shows he’s got the chops for comedy and even though he looks like a lizard with a sleep disorder, he makes a presentable leading man. I can’t rave enough about Zoe Kazan, who might win a competition with Zoe Deschanel for cutest nerdy girl on the planet. She’s a real talent and plays her character so well; you just want to get to know her more. Adam Driver provides a great supporting performance, and brings the rest of the ensemble together.
So, if you’re looking for a great date movie in a summer that’s been kind of dismal, What If is for you.
Want to know what Jenniffer Wardell thought about What If? Check out her review here.