Review: WHAT IF

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

Originally titled, The F Word, What If is a typical, but charming romantic comedy that answers the question, “What if close friends gamble with their relationship and become more than friends?” While the process of discovering the answers (within the context of this story and characters), plays our rather predictably and safely, the movie does have its undeniable charms and makes for a fun and lovely date night at the cinema.  Daniel Radcliffe (The Harry Potter Saga) and Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks) star in this lovable rom-com from the director of Goon and the Fubar films.

Radcliffe portrays Wallace, an agreeable, but sensitive medical school dropout still recovering from the major heartbreak  of catching his ex cheating on him.  In hopes of getting him back “in the game”, Wallace’s buddy Allan (Adam Driver) invites him to a house party where he has the opportunity to meet several datable women.  Wallace awkwardly meets Allan’s cousin Chantry (Kazan) and instantly becomes smitten with her. Even though there is an unquestionable chemistry between the two, Chantry already has a boyfriend named Ben (Rafe Spall) with whom she shares an apartment.  Despite his strong attraction and blossoming feelings for Chantry, Wallace reluctantly agrees to a mere friendship with her.  However, as he spends more time with Chantry, it becomes increasingly difficult for him to restrain himself.  Things get even further complicated when Ben pursues a career opportunity in Brazil, but remains attached to Chantry.

There really isn’t too much to say about this film that I haven’t already stated.  Adapted from T.J. Dawes’s and Michael Rinaldi’s play Toothpaste and Cigars, screenwriter Elan Mastai and director Michael Dowse do not attempt in any way to reinvent the romantic comedy, but still are effective in telling a lovable and captivating story because of its decently written and performed humor and the delightful characters.  Not all of the humor works well, but none of it tanks so horribly that audiences will cringe and groan in their seats.  The overall result is a light, benign and pleasing movie.

I had already fell in love with Zoe Kazan in Ruby Sparks (which she also wrote), so it wasn’t too difficult for me to once again fall under her spell in this movie. Daniel Radcliffe, best known as Harry Potter, offers a fine performance here and gets to show more of his wit and comic timing here.  The film also features entertaining turns from Megan Park who portrays Chantry’s sister Dalia, Adam Driver (Allan), Mackenzie Davis (Allan’s girlfriend Nicole), Rafe Spall (Ben), and Jemima Rooper who plays Wallace’s sister Ellie.  There really aren’t any weak links among the cast members who all perform well.

While the movie is nothing spectacularly dynamic as it doesn’t take too many risks or ambitiously tries to break new ground, it really is difficult to hate on this sweet movie that has so much heart.  Most people have been in a situation where the lines between friendship and romance can become blurred and unclear.  This is a lovely and humorous movie that goes through the possible results of making that leap into that very insecure territory.

 

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