In Daniel Radcliffe’s latest film, he swaps sorcery for romance and faces his toughest challenge yet- burying his true feelings for the girl that could be “the one.”
What’s being deemed as this year’s 500 Days of Summer is the story of Wallace (Radcliffe), a med school dropout who’s given up on love after a string of failed relationships and Chantry (Zoe Kazan), the potential girl of his dreams. The two meet at a party and have an immediate connection. Their spark is quickly extinguished, however, when Chantry mentions her boyfriend. Regardless of the circumstances, Wallace would rather have Chantry in his life as friend than not all. It’s an awkward challenge for both of them as they are faced with the age-old question: Can a guy and girl just be friends?
I have to say, right off the bat, that What If… is incomparable to 500 Days of Summer. I can see how the characters may correlate from the two films. But as a love story, writer Michael H. Weber (500 Days of Summer, The Spectacular Now) continues to be in a league of his own. What If… does not provide any sort of originality in its narrative; in fact it’s about as formulaic as they come. But thanks to the film’s charismatic cast, the movie is surprisingly pleasurable the whole way through.
Zoe Kazan is rapidly becoming the queen of the indie flick world, with films like her offbeat romance, Ruby Sparks and her dark comedy, The Pretty One. She brings a refreshing flair to every character she plays. And who knew Harry Potter could slide into the quick-witted male lead with such ease. What comes as no surprise is the scene-stealing Adam Driver, who plays Allen, Wallace’s best friend who also happens to be Chantry’s cousin. Allen is the uproarious link that caused their initial interaction. Frankly, I would have rather watched Allen’s romance with Nicole (MacKenzie Davis), an outspoken, sexually driven wild-child that actually meets Allen at the same party where Chantry and Wallace first met. Nicole and Allen handle their immediate connection through a more spontaneous route, skipping all the usual steps of a regular relationship.
What If… easily outweighs in comparison to the other cliché Katherine Heigl disasters we’ve endured. But given its subject matter and the potential this story had, I can’t help but be slightly disappointed with the entirety of the film. So many movies try to tackle the “just friends” premise, but only rarely do they pull off the complexity and authentic emotion behind a friendship that has more than platonic feelings. If you’re looking for that kind of story, I suggest you watch Drinking Buddies; it’s one of the few that flawlessly explored a true test of whether or not men and women can just be friends.
The great message here, and what is really the central focus of this film, is how when you’re lucky enough to find that instant connection with someone, is it best to wait it out and see where it goes, or do you jump on your feelings and take a risk before you miss an opportunity?
What If… is an undoubtedly cute, quirky, romantic comedy that most audiences will enjoy.
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