The challenge in making a romantic comedy is the thing that keeps the couple apart. Most people who meet cute in real life don’t have that many obstacles in front of them, and the genre has suffered from too many starlets attempting to find new ways to keep the obvious from happening. What If, which stars Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan as the people destined to be together, finds a novel spin on the genre, and as directed by Michael Dowse tries to find ways of avoiding the obvious pot holes of the genre. It makes it a film that mostly succeeds by what it doesn’t do, and my review of the Blu-ray follows after the jump.
Radcliffe stars as Wallace, who is moping about because his last girlfriend cheated on him. He goes to a party thrown by his best friend Allan (Adam Driver) where he meets Chantry (Kazan) and the two instantly click, but she’s in a long term relationship with Ben (Rafe Spall), so Wallace throws her number away. The two run into each other at a screening of The Princess Bride, where both went alone, and they decide to become friends. Wallace meets Ben and he seems like a decent enough guy, but Ben gets sidelined by work, which sends him abroad. This gives Wallace and Chantry plenty of time alone, and both feel a pull toward each other.
There’s not too much plot to the film, which is natural for these sorts of movies, and a too elaborate set up often hurts films of this type (especially compared to the overelaborate machinations of something like Failure to Launch), and the film doesn’t cheat the fact that Ben is a relatively nice person. He’s just not there and it’s believable that these two – who behave in a chaste fashion about their growing attraction – would spend enough time together that some heat would generate between them. It’s also the film’s biggest drawback as there’s just not much to the film.
What if is of its genre, and what’s good about it is that it doesn’t make any mistakes where what keeps people apart feel more like unnatural plot machinations that are completely unrelateable, and the film creates a good light airy tone, but it’s also never more than a three star movie. The film also benefits from a fun cast that includes Mackenzie Davis and Megan Park, but it’s a slip of a film. It’s also the sort of film that could play well over repeat viewings, and may benefit from cable play because it is just charming enough to be engaging, and Kazan never falls into the trap of being a character who seems magical or the dream girl of its scripter.
Sony Pictures has released this CBS Film on Blu-ray and it’s presented handsomely with the film in widescreen (2.35:1) and in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and comes with a digital copy. The disc offers three deleted scenes (5 min.), which are cute but unnecessary, and four featurettes: “Blurred Lines” (4 min.),”Behind the Scenes of What If (18 min.) ”Opposites Attract (4 min.) and “A Modern Love Story” (4 min.). Most seem cut as internet promos for the film, but the behind the scenes actually covers the process of the making of the movie fairly well with a lot of comments from screenwriter Elan Mastai.