What If (2014)
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Megan Park, Adam Driver, Mackenzie Davis, and Rafe Spall
Directed by Michael Dowse
Who knew Harry Potter himself Daniel Radcliffe had the wit in him to portray a dryly humorous, self-effacing, and hopeless romantic like Wallace, a med school dropout who meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan) at a party thrown by his best friend Allan (Adam Driver). Upon walking her home, Wallace learns that Chantry has a longterm boyfriend in Ben (Rafe Spall) and wants more than anything else to simply be friends with Wallace whom she's hit it off with right away in terms of their likes, dislikes, and personalities. The two were made for each other -- it's obvious. Unfortunately, Chantry really loves Ben. Also unfortunately, Wallace finds himself falling for Chantry more and more with each passing month, yet he also drifts further and further from being able to tell her his true feelings as they shift deeper and deeper into the "friend zone."
The film of course veers down an expected path which, I was surprised to discover, I found a tiny bit annoying. I was hoping for maybe a "twist" at the film's conclusion, but writer Elan Mastai chickens out just a little bit. Admittedly, I would've probably written the same ending as that's what's totally expected of a film like this, but as the flick came to a close I was hoping I'd be in for something a little off the beaten path. Still, Matsai succeeds at creating two characters whose wit and dry humor are a perfect match for each other and also truly amusing to watch. Radcliffe and Kazan are both fantastic in their roles, displaying a great amount of chemistry. While Radcliffe was quite the surprise (I wasn't a fan of the Harry Potter series, so I was impressed here), Kazan proves once again that she's someone to watch. I thought she was great in 2012's Ruby Sparks (a very different romantic comedy), but I was quite pleased to see her onscreen again as she hasn't done much since then.
Much like the "sucker for romantic comedies" line, I also tend to pull out the "but it doesn't reinvent the wheel" clause more often than I probably should. That said, it's an apt phrase for What If...but that doesn't really matter. What If will win you over with two sweet performances and a youthful cast that imbues humor into a story we've certainly seen portrayed many times before.
The RyMickey Rating: B