Movie Review: What If? (2013)

Posted: June 3, 2016 in Comedy, Romance
Tags: , ,

what if

Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) has dropped out of medical school in Canada, and now writes technical manuals of some kind. Despite a bad breakup and general cynicism about love, Wallace’s roommate Allan (Adam Driver) introduces Wallace to his cousin, Chantry, (Zoe Kazan) but Chantry has a boyfriend, named Ben (Rafe Spall) who works as a negotiator for the U.N.so Wallace and Chantry agree to be friends. They run into each other outside a movie, and start trading e-mails about silly things like Fool’s Gold, a bacon and PB&J sandwich which was Evis’ favorite.

Eventually, Chantry wants Wallace to meet Ben, chantry tries to introduce Wallace to her sister, Dalla (Megan Park) but the evening ends badly as Wallace accidentally pushes Ben out the window.  At the emergency room Chantry meets Wallace’s ex, Megan. Chantry finds out that Ben gets a job in Ireland, and will be all over Europe for the next six months.  Wallace and Chantry inevitably get closer, and Wallace is definitely in love with her, but afraid to tell her his true feelings because he’s afraid of losing her friendship.  Does Wallace admit his true feeling for Chantry?

I like this movie a lot.  It’s extremely funny, the characters are interesting, with interesting jobs Chantry is an animator, Ben is a U.N. negotiator, yet they have detailed conversations about trivial things, like a sandwich called Fool’s Gold or the name of whipped cream.  There are issues with the script.  There was a totally unnecessary relationship with Allan and a girl named Nicole, which could have been edited. What if is also very conventional, the cynical guy falls for the first girl he meets, Chantry introduces Wallace to her sister, and the ending is predictable. But this was a happy, light movie so the ending fit.  I’ve said it before, with romantic comedies, it’s not always the destination, but the journey, and this was a journey well worth taking.

The acting is very good.  Daniel Radcliffe, making a break from his sci fi/horror roles,  is a pretty good comedic actor, after a somewhat bumpy start.  Comedy requires a great deal of timing, and Radcliffe had some trouble with the timing at first, but caught on quickly, and did a nice job.  Zoe Kazan is perfect in her role, she is funny, and sweet, and she plays an animator, although the viewer never sees her draw a thing, it seems like she could be an animator.  She has a Zooey Deschanel quirky quality to her. But it is Adam Driver who absolutely steals this movie, he is funny, and outrageous, and has perfect timing.  I can see why he is such a hit on Girls, which I’ve never seen. Unlike Star Wars, he really gets a chance to be funny here and is. Rafe Spall’s accent slips here and there, so I’m glad Radcliffe didn’t try to do an American accent.

The direction is mostly good, the pacing is fine, a few of the subplots could have been edited down in the interest of time, but the story moved along quite well.  There were some nice flourishes with the addition of animation to the film, but I don’t think the viewer ever saw the drawings credited to her. The director gets good performances from everyone, so even though he’s a little known Canadian director, he did a decent job with this movie.

What If?  No question, a good rom-com.

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