What If marks Daniel Radcliffe’s latest attempt to distance himself from the Harry Potter franchise. The film is directed by Michael Dowse whose previous work includes the Seann William Scott comedy Goon. The screenplay is written by Elan Mastai who hasn’t written a film I know of and certainly doesn’t have a track record in comedies.
The essential question the film asks is can a man and women be friends without sex and the usual relationship mush getting in the way. Radcliffe’s character Wallace is a medical school drop out living in Toronto who writes instructional manuals for an unknown product and it is about 379 days (from memory) since he broke up with his girlfriend. He lives with his sister and nephew and one day he is at a party where he bumps into Chantry (played by Zoe Kazan) only to discover as he walks her home that she has a long term boyfriend. What is a boy to do?
The film appears to have a lot going for it with the highly personable Radcliffe in the lead and we can’t forget the talented Adam Driver who plays his old college room-mate Allan. I was expecting a warm and charming comedy but I was sadly disappointed. The film suffers from a massive, unavoidable, undeniable flaw. The dialogue is unbelievably bad. It’s difficult to see such onscreen talent floundering as they try their best with the utter dribble coming out of their mouths.
I can see what the writer was trying to do – replicate those silly conversations we have with our nearest and dearest. However, some of the stuff is just plain stupid. I fail to see how the amount of poop in the body of Elvis Presley at the time of his death is funny. I’m not making this up. This is an earnest conversation that takes place between Wallace and Chantry.
As a result the film completely lost me and I started asking those questions you aren’t supposed to ask. Why is Wallace as an Englishman in Toronto? Why is his sister in Toronto with him? Are there any Canadians living in Toronto? I started to get bothered by the fact I new what the ending was before I had stepped into the cinema.
I wasn’t expecting a lot from this film but it failed to achieve even this. This film has gone into the chart of my least favourite films of the year at number 2, only just edged out by Walking on Sunshine. Towards the end as the pain started to get too much I turned to punching myself in the face. Not too hard you understand, just enough to distract me from the words coming out the actors mouths.