What If, starring Daniel “Pocket Prince” Radcliffe is not unlike most indie romantic comedies. It takes one man and forces him to conquer some obstacle to get his whimsical lady. Critics are calling it this year’s (500) Days of Summer, which I totally get. (500) Days of Summer was one of those movies that you either loved or hated, and it depends upon which character you related to most. I hated that movie, so I was hesitant to consider the possibility that I might enjoy What If.
Surprisingly, it’s adorable. Radcliffe plays Wallace (another indicator of indie-ness, weird names), a med school dropout who meets Chantry (played by Zoe Kazan, seriously with these names) and is immediately smitten with her. Unfortunately, she has a long-term boyfriend that she lives with. They agree to be “just friends” and the rest of the film is a tale of how one man battles against the dreaded “friendzone”. It’s a frustrating concept to put into film, and depending on where you sit on the subject of the “friendzone” will determine how you feel about What If. I, as the journalist I am, was able to set aside my bias and enjoy the movie for what it was–a romantic comedy. It’s charming. Radcliffe is charming and definitely coming into his own as a post-franchise actor. The characters are unrealistic, with their witty spitfire inspirationalisms and brashness, but the relationships make the movie whole. It’s a film about relationships, why not make all of them, friends and lovers alike, believable and relatable? The refreshing aspect to their unbelievability is how honest and straightforward each character is with one another. The one instance in the film where no one is straightforward leads to the climax of the film, and actually fits well into the overall plot and character theme. It’s a cute movie, just don’t expect it to be realistic.
If you’re on the side of “these bitches and their friendzone bullshit” you maybe won’t enjoy this movie. But isn’t that what all romantic comedies are? Movies about people who make terrible life choices and somehow find love in the middle of it all? Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s what life is too.