*** out of ****
What If charmed the hell out of me. It's a perfect date movie.
Young Englishman Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) still isn't over a failed romance when he meets the quirky Chantry (Zoe Kazan) at a party. They hit it off but Chantry has a boyfriend. Wallace decides to just be her friend but he can't shake his romantic feelings for her.
Based on the play Toothpaste and Cigars by T.J. Dawe and Michael Rinaldi, the film is smartly scripted by Elan Mastai and smoothly directed by Michael Dowse (Goon). What If is a terrific example of putting a fresh spin on a formula romantic comedy. We have elements we've seen a thousand times before – the lovesick hero, the perfect girl next door who is in a relationship with a complete doofus, and then there are the wacky friends who dispense love advice – but here it's done with smarts and enthusiasm. It is often very funny and the characters are believable and easy for us to identify with. Radcliffe has great comic timing, Kazan is the epitome of adorable, and Adam Driver and Mackenzie Davis are a riot as Wallace's friends.
The character of Chantry is an animator, so a nice touch is the recurring images of her drawings flying through scenes. It's details like this that make What If memorable. Besides, you've got to have affection for any movie that has characters watching the chest opening scene from John Carpenter's The Thing, as well as the potential lovers running into each other at a showing of The Princess Bride.