Directed by Michael Dowse. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Megan Park, Adam Driver. (2014, PG-13, 102 min.)
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Aug. 22, 2014
Scripted by Elan Mastai (adapting the play Toothpaste and Cigars by T.J. Dawe and Michael Rinaldi) and directed by Michael Dowse, whose last film was the foul-mouthed, good-natured hockey comedy Goon, What If stars Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan as Wallace and Chantry, fast friends who pledge to keep it platonic. That she has a longtime boyfriend helps draw a hard line in the sand, but Wallace and Chantry are so simpatico, so perfectly on the same wavelength, the question of whether they’ll end up together is not if, but when.
Rebranded in the States from its original, catchier title The F Word (per MPAA edict), this Canadian romantic comedy is all gentleness – chuckling (if never laugh-out-loud) and sweet (but never sweep-you-off-your-feet). Radcliffe and Kazan are likable, laid-back performers, and Adam Driver (Girls) livens things up as Wallace’s loutish best friend. But none of it feels terribly authentic – not the labored banter that no doubt sounded better on paper, nor the barely sketched supporting parts that exist only to ask leading questions about the relationship status of Wallace and Chantry. Occasional animated inserts inspired by Chantry’s work as an illustrator, while accomplished, inject an off-note of whimsy that doesn’t quite square with the script’s stabs at edgier humor.