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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

What If (2014)


At least I now know that there’s another meaning behind the term “fool’s gold”, other than just some shitty Kate Hudson rom-com.

Medical school drop-out Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) is still trying to get over a break-up that left him nearly destroyed over a year ago. And everything looks like it’s going back to being smooth when he meets the lovely and vivacious Chantry (Zoe Kazan) at a party, where it seems quite clear that they’ll be spending the night together and will bring Wallace out of this funk. Problem is, Chantry lets it be known that she does indeed have a boyfriend (Rafe Spall) and that things between them are still quite serious. However, she still wants to be friends with Wallace, which he can’t resist because he knows that there is a certain connection between them both that makes the two happy. So, they decide to try and be friends for as long as they can; that is, until one decides that maybe it’s time to take things to the next level, if that’s even possible. But as we all know: It’s easier said, then actually done.

So yeah, the whole “Can men and women be friends?” thing has been practically hammered to death in the rom-com genre since the early days of When Harry Met Sally…, and then all the way to where we had two rom-coms in the same year talking about it (Friends with Benefits, No Strings Attached). And while, yes, that does seem awfully terrible that somebody has produced, yet again, another rom-com in which it seems like everything happens and occurs right on-cue as it’s supposed to, there’s still some delight to be had in a rom-com that takes itself a bit more seriously.

How I imagine most of the ragers at Hogwarts ended up turning out to be.

How I imagine most of the ragers at Hogwarts ended up turning out to be.

For instance, What If (formerly titled the much better the F Word) takes the conventional rom-com plot of having a guy, be a friend with a girl, even though he may/may not have feelings for her in the first place. We’ve all heard, and seen it done a hundred times before and usually, it sucks. There’s no way of getting around it, except if the rom-com called into question is a tad bit “different” from the bunch.

This is that kind of rom-com, although, you wouldn’t know right away. Because, with time, the movie does grow on you and, wouldn’t you know it, there actually begins to be something of a believable, rather sweet friendship between these Wallace and Chantry characters that not only makes you root them on to be together by the end, but to actually wish more rom-coms followed suit. Honestly, it’s not that hard: Write stock characters as much as you want, but give them at least some element resembling a personality, or heart and it’s all good. Once you are able to do that with your rom-com’s characters, then the movie itself gets sufficiently better.

Which, in case you couldn’t already tell, is exactly the case here.

Not only do we get two well-written characters that feel, talk, breathe and act like real human beings in a committed, yet, full-of-boundaries friendship, but they also have two actors in the roles that build a pretty neat chemistry between one another. For those of you who have not yet been able to get over the fact that yes, Harry Potter is over and yes, Daniel Radcliffe has aged, then allow this movie/role to be something of a wake-up call. Radcliffe does something well here in that he plays Wallace as an everyday, straight-man that you could probably meet on the street and have a conversation with on just about anything that came across your mind. He just has that certain vibe about him and it hardly ever makes him unlikable, nor even annoying; he’s just a simple dude, looking for love and any sort of connection. And because we too have, at one point, had that need in our lives, it’s easy to sympathize with him and hope that by the end, all works out well for him, girl or no girl.

That said, Zoe Kazan definitely gets the harder role as Chantry – a tied-down, twenty-something gal that has a boyfriend, yet, casually flirts and leads on her “bestie”. In most movies, this character is written off as something of a villain, but here, Chantry has to be somewhat likable and relatable in her non-stop attempts at making Wallace want to rip his hair out, and Kazan’s charm allows her to get away with that. Kazan’s another talent that most people don’t know is actually out there, yet, time and time again, the gal continues to put in great work in these small indies that reveal here to be more than just a carbon-copy of Zoeey Deschanel; she’s more down-to-Earth and isn’t all about the quirks of her personality, or her mandolin. She wants to be loved and, if given the chance to, return the favor to those who deserve it the most.

The Halt and Catch Fire and Girls team-up nobody asked for.

The Girls and Halt and Catch Fire team-up nobody asked for.

And their chemistry together is what mostly carries this movie. Their constant conversations revolve around such topics feces, fried foods, Elvis and Cool Whip, and while in most movies, this would seem so earnest you’d want to punch everybody in the face (and there are certain occasions in which I had that feeling with this feeling), but here, it feels like actual conversations between two people who feel and have a spark between them both. It’s nice to see play out on screen, but it’s even better to see what happens when these two eventually do start to question whether they can be friends, or if they can “be more”.

Now, obviously, you know where this is heading, so I won’t say too much more other than to expect from this movie, what you expect from most rom-coms: Conventional occurrence, after conventional occurrence. However, while that would destroy most movies, here, it’s fine. The movie never makes it clear that it sets out to be the different kind of rom-com that will forever change the world; it just wants to tell a sweet, rather lovely story about a boy and a girl, and how they end up being friends.

That’s all there is to it and sometimes, that’s all you need.

Consensus: By not setting out to change the game of the ordinary rom-com, What If ends up being an enjoyable, sweet and well-acted tale of romance, that’s also a fine piece of filler entertainment.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

If she jumps under your umbrella like that, bro, she wants it!

If she jumps under your umbrella like that, bro, she wants it!

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

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22 responses to “What If (2014)

  1. Mark Hobin August 25, 2014 at 3:35 am

    What If is pleasant enough but the slightness of the story ultimately relegates this affair to little more than passable time filler.

  2. 70srichard August 25, 2014 at 3:36 am

    This was very much how I felt about it as well,although I don’t think the conversations sounded natural, they did sound fun though.

  3. dullwood68 August 25, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Nice review, Dan. Have been looking forward to this for a while because it looked a little “different”. Good to see you think the same, and that it works for the movie.

  4. Three Rows Back August 25, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Sterling stuff Dan. Looks better than I thought it might.

  5. bck1402 August 25, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    movies like these rely heavily on the performers and their chemistry. Hope it works, since I like Kazan’s work and am looking forward to seeing Radcliffe break away from those period dramas.

  6. ruth August 25, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Despite the rather cliched storyline, I’m still curious to check this out because of the cast, esp. Radcliffe as a guy-next-door type which he seems to pull off well. I like Zoe Kazan too from Ruby Sparks, I actually think she’s more likable than Deschanel.

  7. Nicola August 25, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Wonderful review Dan! Really looking forward to seeing this film! I know exactly what you mean about the whole Daniel Radcliffe/Harry Potter thing…move on people!! I’m looking forward to seeing him take on a rom-com lead! 😀

  8. Hypersonic55 August 25, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    I’ve heard mixed things about this, I wanted to see it just to see how Daniel Radcliffe fares. He’s definitely been getting better as an actor with some of his recent roles and I wanted to see if he m interested in the cast though.

  9. Chris August 25, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    Nice review, Dan. I actually came away with similar feelings towards it, though I wasn’t the biggest fan of its overly happy ending, but that may be me just inserted my own personal feelings on the matter towards it. 😛

  10. Kristin August 26, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    I really enjoyed What If, although like you, I felt like it was very conventional. Even so, I thought they did a nice job with it, and the leads were great. I also like that the characters actually WANT to do the morally right thing, like when their friends steal their clothes. Anyways, nice review, Dan!

  11. Pingback: All Eyes On Bloggers, Ed. 1 | All Eyes On Screen

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