In a startling turn of events I’m reviewing my first ever romantic comedy! Yes it could be argued that Under The Skin is one (it has nude Scarlett Johansson and hilarious Glasgow accents) but I have to draw a line somewhere. I’ve had bad experiences with these kind of films mainly due to The World’s Worst Person™ – Kate Hudson. What If is unapologetic-ally a traditional romantic comedy which is elevated by its excellent cast. So what’s it about?
What If tells the story of a heartbroken young man named Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) who meets and falls in love with a girl who has a boyfriend. He decides to just be her friend and not tell her how he really feels. Can a man and woman be friends without falling in love? Yes, yes they can, however not in movies which is why we get films like this. Will Wallace reveal his true feelings or try to move on. You probably can figure it out for yourself.
The thing is What If tries to avoid all of the rom-com cliches to be something modern and fresh. The problem though is that it avoids some cliches while falling in to others. Chantry’s (Zoe Kazan) boyfriend is actually a really nice guy where in other films he would be a total dicksplash. Cliche avoided. Then there’s a scene with Wallace and Chantry lying in their beds talking about shit on their phones. Damn, we were doing so well but at least they’re trying.
Its obvious the makers are aiming for a 500 Hundred Days of Summer kind of movie by focusing on the man and making sex jokes. But where that film was fresh and unique What If has a story we’ve seen a hundred times. When Harry Met Sally was wittier and more memorable while approaching the same themes.
If it sounds like I hated What If then you’d be wrong. While this is unoriginal, unsurprising and a little bit twee towards the end its also a really sweet film with a good heart. A lot of this is due to efforts of the cast. Daniel Radcliffe is excellent as a normal, relatable, likable hero looking for love and Zoe Kazan is like a cute little mushroom headed dream-girl (I mean that in a good way, I loved her). These two along with some funny lines help What If stand out from the rom-com crowd. Sometimes even I can drop my cool cynicism and enjoy a little bit of romance.
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