Friday, August 8, 2014

Review: What If

Release date: August 8, 2014
Running time: 102 minutes
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Megan Park, Adam Driver
Who to see it with: A fan of somewhat realistic relationship movies


The next movie In Daniel Radcliffe's quest to distance himself from his magical education at Hogwarts, What If, attempts to cast him as a slightly awkward, dryly humorous man named Wallace who meets his perfect girl, Chantry (Kazan), who just happens to have a boyfriend. Chantry and Wallace quickly become friends, but are constantly struggling to maintain their friendship instead of acting on their clear chemistry. Although the title implies that the movie will take a Sliding Doors type approach, looking at how Wallace and Chantry's life could be if they would just be together, it doesn't have any of this. Apparently, the international name of the movie is "The F Word," where the F here is friend. That would have been a more accurate description of this movie. The two characters are in constant tension trying to balance their growing relationship with their desire to (or desire not to) remain friends.

The movie attempts to craft a realistic relationship between Wallace and Chantry, and for the most part succeeds. The two have clear on-screen chemistry and have some very funny, if slightly ridiculous conversations. The dialog at times feels like an old school improvisational style (think Anchorman, Taladega Nights, and movies like that). That's not to say that their conversations are ridiculous, but they sometimes come up with topics out of left field that escalate quickly. However, that doesn't take away from the fact that the duo are fun to watch and root for. What If does a lot right with the plot, and attempts to change some of the more predictable tropes of romantic dramadies. And it mostly succeeds, except for some fairly unbelievable characters and situations (or maybe my perspective has just been skewed from seeing so many of these movies). Additionally, the movie drags in the middle as it tries to test Wallace and Chantry's relationship in a few of the previously mentioned unbelievable situations. And, although Wallace's character is enjoyable, there are times when he is almost too saintly for his own good. Despite these minor points, What If attempts to create a more realistic relationship and move past some of the established romantic dramady tropes that have made these movies predictable. It has two interesting main characters with clear chemistry and should definitely be seen by fans of this genre.

Rent it.

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