“all romantics meet the same fate someday, Cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark café, You laugh he said you think you’re immune, Go look at your eyes they’re full of moon”
Joni Mitchell – The Last Time I Saw Richard
What If has been pigeonholed as a Comedy/Drama/Romance, the same three genre’s as When Harry Met Sally… (1989), this and the main protagonists being Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan, the stars of Harry Potter and Ruby Sparks respectively is the reason for my flippant title. But when we look a little deeper, have we got anything new to say after 25 years?
Wallace (Radcliffe) is a burnt out cynical shell of a man after a failed relationship. He meets Chantry (Kazan) at a party and forms an instant bond. After walking her home at the end of the night she tells him she has boyfriend but wants to be his friend. They quickly become best but it is clear to everyone that he is in love with her.
The film has its funny moments, but it tries just a little too hard to be truly funny. There are enough laughs along the way for this not to matter if not for my initial question. The answer, the film has nothing to say that When Harry Met Sally… didn’t say quarter of a century ago, and the Rob Reiner/Nora Ephron film is funnier. That said, in a world full of remakes and reboots is an original story that that reworks old ideas really that bad? Given the fact that many viewers of What If won’t have seen When Harry Met Sally… the new film does have a place. To add to this, with the inevitable comparisons it may steer a few people towards the older film. It is also worth mentioning the some great supporting performances particularly from Mackenzie Davis and Rafe Spall.
It’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but if you are looking for an inoffensive sometimes funny Comedy/Drama/Romance you could do a lot worse. Make sure you stay for the fantastic animated closing credits that conclude the story.