Review: What If (2013)

In my never-ending quest to catch up on movies I missed, I rented What If this past weekend, a quirky indie film starring Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliff.

My first impression of the film? Weird. My final one? Weirder. Throughout the entire movie I basically couldn’t figure out if I thought it was the biggest piece of crap I’ve seen all year or actually one of the best. In fact, 24 hours later, I’m still not sure.

The premise of the film is quite basic. Guy (Daniel Radcliff) is emotionally wrecked from a bad relationship. Guy is forced to go to a party by best friend (Adam Driver). Guy meets quirky, interesting Girl (Zoe Kazan) at said party. Guy finds out girl has a Boyfriend (Rafe Spall). Guy and Girl become friends and even though Guy thinks he’s not trying to be anything more, there’s obviously something emotional between Guy and Girl because Boyfriend is jealous, friends can spot it from miles away, and Guy remains single throughout the whole film, even going so far as to hallucinate Girl when he’s kissing someone else.

Yeah, it’s pretty basic.

So if it wasn’t the plot that I liked, what was it that intrigued me about this movie?

Well, I liked the script. The dialogue was a series of witty and sarcastic banter between members of the friend group. It was like a weird conversational tangent in which anything and everything is ok to say because no one actually gives a damn about what anyone else is saying. Because at the end of the day, all of it is for fun and none of it is real and so the whole movie felt like this big “what if.”

What if you stopped caring for a while? What if you just gave up wondering about what other people thought for five seconds in a conversation, in a relationship, in your life and then just lived it instead? What if you stopped trying to be a movie and just made something real and awkward, something so bad that you actually kind of liked it because it was different?

That’s what What If was for me. It was quirky, it was horrible, and it was the worst train wreck of a conversation, the kind that only really works between friends, but because of that it was also amazing and cool. And you can tell that the actors got a kick out of it, that they liked running their mouths off and being themselves and because of that it kind of worked and didn’t work for everything that it was and sort of wasn’t. Which makes absolutely no sense, I know.

Would I recommend this movie? I’m not sure. I picked it up because the trailer looked entertaining, because in it Daniel Radcliff pushed someone out of a window (by accident, of course), and so I figured that it must be funny and worth two hours of my life. And it was, but it also wasn’t. So I guess I’d say know what you’re getting yourself into before you decide to rent this movie. It won’t be quite what you expect, though you might find more than you were even expecting.

P.S. – There is a solid 10 seconds of screen time dedicated to Daniel Radcliff’s butt. First Equis and now this? The kid must like being naked on screen/stage or else he’s really trying to get past that whole Harry Potter phase. You go, D-Rad!

 

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