‘What If’: rooting for Daniel Radcliffe in love
A review of “What If,” starring Daniel Radcliffe as a med-school dropout in love. Three stars out of four.
Seattle Times movie critic
Movie Review ★★★
‘What If,’ with Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Megan Park, Adam Driver, Mackenzie Davis, Rafe Spall. Directed by Michael Dowse, from a screenplay by Elan Mastai. 97 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sexual content including references throughout, partial nudity and language. Meridian.
One of the great pleasures of the “Harry Potter” movies was watching Daniel Radcliffe grow — not just from child to young man, but from novice to accomplished actor. In the romantic comedy “What If,” we see a new side of him.
As Wallace, a med-school dropout in love with a woman who isn’t available, he’s all yearning and charm, with a romantic streak simmering somewhere below his slightly brittle nice-guy exterior. You’re on his side instantly, even though — this being a romantic comedy that strictly follows rom-com convention — he needs to wait awhile for his dream to come true.
There’s nothing particularly inventive about “What If” (except for the whimsical animation that occasionally flutters into the film, as if a character’s imagination suddenly took hold of things); it’s essentially a contemporary “When Harry Met Sally” played out with 20-somethings, and there’s nothing terribly wrong with that.
There’s Wallace, who got dumped by his girlfriend and is picturesquely through with love. There’s Chantry (Zoe Kazan), the adorably squeaky-voiced young woman he meets at a party, only to have his hopes dashed by her casual mention of “my boyfriend.” There’s Wallace’s best friend Allan (a very funny Adam Driver) and his girlfriend Dalia (Megan Park), a sort of sassy junior-varsity Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby. Not to mention the discussions about whether men and women can just be friends, cozy late-night phone conversations in separate beds, chats in a diner booth. For heaven’s sake, Wallace and Chantry both showed up solo to a screening of “The Princess Bride”! What other evidence do they want?
“What If,” introducing us to a couple whom we genuinely root for (they even have matching blue eyes), is a welcome pleasure.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org