Movie #280 2020: What If (2013)

Why does this movie have a different title in some countries to others? To be honest, I assumed it was renamed because Gordon Ramsay said no. (It was originally called The F Word and was released as such in Canada. Turns out, it was changed because the USA didn’t like connotations it had with the word ‘fuck’… Boring.)

What If (or The F Word, if you prefer) is an indie-style romantic comedy set in Toronto, Canada. Starring a post-Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe – who was evidently trying to break away from the boy wizard image people will always associate with him – it involves the age old tale of desperately wanting someone who is unavailable. Though Radcliffe’s Wallace continuously tries to convince himself that they’re just friends, the movie takes us on a journey of realisation that he and Chantry (the terribly named character played by Zoe Kazan) are much more than that.

From the above synopsis, you’ll probably notice one thing: you’ve seen it all before. Yep, this is just your average, run-of-the-mill romcom about star-crossed twenty-somethings in the city… except there are some weird, glittery fairy graphics going on as well. Cartoons or no cartoons, this is cute!

Current movies of this ilk seem to get something right quite often: their characters are very likeable and often relatable. What If is no different. We all know a no-nonsense straight-talker just like Adam Driver’s character, and we all know a shy, nerdy but charming guy like protagonist Wallace. Though you may not always like these characters as people, it’s a very good, accessible reflection of real life. Plus, Driver gifts us with the brilliant line ”I just had sex and I’m about to each nachos. IT’S THE GREATEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE!” which is possibly one of the best observations I’ve heard all year.

As you may have gathered, the dialogue here is very realistic. One downfall of this is that such realism can often lead movies like this one to feel too staged and fairytale-esque. I’d wager that some of this is improv though, which is just what you need when you’re trying to create a sense of real life. Minus those ambiguous sparkling cartoon graphics, this could absolutely be a true story, and the dialogue itself isn’t so ridiculous that you sit there and think ”no one would ever say that.”

Scripting aside, there’s nothing outstandingly new about this. Boy meets girl, girl already has boyfriend… we’ve heard it all before, just as I proposed at the start of this review. It’s still entertaining though, and certainly not the worst way to spend an afternoon in front of the TV.

The third act becomes a little dragged out and tedious, and it just so happens to be the part that has the most unrealistic thing about the film. *Spoiler warning*: who the fuck would ever just hop a plane to Dublin – to his crush’s boyfriend’s flat! – on a whim?! No one. It’s stupid, to put it simply, and really dragged the rating of this movie down for me.

Also unrealistic? Anyone in Toronto supporting the Canadiens. Hilarious.

What If is available to stream on Netflix in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

Costume & Set Design: 
Overall Enjoyability Rating: 

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