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‘What If’ adds much needed zing to the old rom-com recipe

Co-stars Radcliffe and Kazan cozy up
Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

What If


What if Daniel Radcliffe said good-bye to being associated with Harry Potter forever and turned into a charming, witty, sometimes mumbly rom-com leading man? What if he was always paired with Zoe Kazan in this endeavor and the two of them became the next Billy Crystal (or maybe even Tom Hanks) and Meg Ryan?

We could only hope for such endearing chemistry. “What If” is a romantic comedy that isn’t filled with the typical sugary plot that oozes predictability and leaves an audience feeling unsatisfied. This is a full-blown, real-life romance that begins just as these things often do: with a friendship.

Medical school dropout and newly dumped, Wallace (Radcliffe) meets free spirit animator, Chantry (Kazan) at a house party thrown by his best friend/her cousin, Allan (Adam Driver). There is an instant connection full of sarcastic exchanges and batting eyelashes. Wallace walks Chantry home, the home she lives with her longtime boyfriend, Ben (Rafe Spall). Despite this technicality, Wallace and Chantry form a fast, close friendship. The kind enviable by singles and couples alike.

Their friendship never seems to cross into relationship territory, until it does and that’s where things get messy. This modern twist on the classic “can men and women just be friends” theory is an original romance with all the movie's characters facing life changing decisions and entertaining characters along the way.

Another surprising key player of the film comes in the form of Elvis Presley's supposed favorite sandwich. Fool’s Gold is not for those trying to be diet-friendly. It’s a loaf of French or Italian white bread stuffed with a jar of peanut butter and a jar of jam, topped with a pound of crispy bacon and then slathered on the outside with butter before baked. Fool’s Gold is simplicity and excess mixed in just the perfect way, much like the movie itself.

“What If” is the romantic comedy this generation needs. One (mostly) free of technology and playing games and random hookups. It’s a story of genuine respect, care and like of another person to evolve naturally into a grown-up kind of love. It’s a beautiful story told with just the right amount of witty and quirky zing to keep it just as much a comedy as is it romantic.

Final words: Favorite of the year so far!

In theaters August 15th

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