What If (released under the title The F Word in most other territories) stars Radcliffe as Wallace, a medical school dropout who hasn’t been able to get over his breakup with his previous girlfriend. One night, he is coerced into attending a party by his roommate (played by Adam Driver), and while there he meets a girl named Chantry (Kazan). The two of them hit it off and Wallace begins to think that he may finally have a found a girl who he’s interested in. Unfortunately, when Wallace walks Chantry home, he discovers that she already has a boyfriend (Rafe Spall). Wallace decides that he is going to become friends with Chantry anyway, but things become complicated as the two of them slowly fall for each other.
The main thing that this movie has going for it is its humor. Unlike the vast majority of romantic comedies who try to evoke laughs with dick jokes, an endless stream of pop-culture references, and putting the characters in such embarrassing situations you involuntary cringe, What If has a decent number of genuinely funny moments. I have to give the writers credit for taking the time to actually write witty dialogue that is much funnier than standard rom-com fare. Radcliffe shows off some decent comedy-acting chops by playing the cynical, sarcastic, witty straight man surprisingly well. This is supplemented by occasional bits of slapstick to switch things up. As a side-note, it made me happy that the writers were able to resist the temptation to constantly remind the audience that the lead actor is British. One joke about lifts or bland food is funny; 50 is annoying and boring.
However, the movie’s plot and writing was… I won’t say it’s really bad, it’s just boring. Plots about people being stuck in the “friendzone” have been really overused and frankly bore me. While Radcliffe and Kazan have undeniable on-screen chemistry, and the film actually manages to not be too cheesy (most of the time), the plot is just pretty dull. I found myself not caring that much about whether Chantry would stay with her boyfriend, drop him for Wallace, or move to Taiwan to advance her career in animation, and kept waiting for more witty and sardonic comments by Radcliffe. Basically, I think that this film would have been better if it was just comedy.
So while Radcliffe and Kazan do look and act cute together, and the humor is often quite well-written, all of that is just not enough to make up for the lackluster plot. Hopefully this film will help to prevent Radcliffe from being typecast as Harry Potter, and maybe even help him get into a career in comedy films (which I would like to see after this movie), but this will certainly not be the film we will remember him for, or even the film most people will go see this week. If you’re looking for a funny but forgettable movie to bring a date to, than see What If. Otherwise, just go see Guardians of the Galaxy.