THE LAZILY TITLED, unoriginally plotted new romantic comedy What If could easily be dismissed by a movie-going public frequently let down by the genre. But please, give it a chance; What If is something special.
Thing is, I can't put my finger on why it's special. It's nothing fancy. Daniel Radcliffe stars as Wallace in your standard boy-meets-girl, girl-has-boyfriend, boy-pines-away, everybody-weirdly-talks-a-lot-about-poop thing. The girl, Chantry (Zoe Kazan), is an adorable illustrator (which is this decade's "magazine writer" or "chef") who is just nice. Like, straight up likable nice. As Wallace and Chantry become friends—then maybe more than friends—we are never surprised, our expectations never challenged. But it doesn't matter.
Everybody's chemistry—even the ridiculous best-friend pairing of tiny DanRad and Girls' lanky giant Adam Driver—is spot-on. The whole thing takes place in Canada, the most pleasant place on earth. What If even passes the Bechdel test. Somebody was doing their job when they wrote this thing.
Confession: I never was at all into DanRad as Harry Potter. Thankfully, he has grown into a very charming adult, and his acting chops are much better suited to What If's witty romantic banter than all that adolescent wizarding. He takes a character like Wallace, who could be a stereotypical "friend-zoned" sleazeball, and makes him... well, not sleazy. While it's not like you root for him and Chantry to get together, you don't not root for it either.
The romantic comedy has been pretty abused by Heigls and J. Los; What If is a return to the simple, classic, sweet-but-not-saccharine form. And you know what? Maybe that's why this movie made me so damn happy: Even though you know what's going to happen, getting there is a rare delight.