The 2014 romcom "WHAT IF," which Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is releasing on Blu-ray and DVD on November 25 2014, represents the latest expansion in the film career of "Harry Potter" legend Daniel Radcliffe.
Radcliffe's role of Wallace in this one takes him from playing everyone's favorite wizard to highly theatrical dramas such as "The Woman in Black" and "Kill Your Darlings" to being the lovestruck dope at the center of every chick flick since at least 2000. One gets the sense that Harry Potter has cast a spell that transfers the consciousness of fellow Brit. Hugh Grant into his body.
Potter further channels Grant in being the manchild in the life of Wallace's nephew. A scene in which Wallace babysits said boy is very cute.
The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the uber-spoiler-laden trailer for "WHAT" includes glimpses of the key scenes that demonstrate the humor and charm in the film. It further provides a sense of the decent chemistry that Radcliffe and his leading lady share.
We first meet Wallace at a party that he is attending with his quirky slacker former college roommate Allan, who plays the role largely in the same manner that he portrays Adam in the HBO comedy series "Girls." Wallace, who is nursing a seeming eternal broken heart in the wake of a devastating breakup, soon has the typical romcom quirky cute meeting with Chantry. Yale theater program graduate Zoe Kazan, who is the granddaughter of film legend Elia Kazan, plays said "girl".
Chantry's successful career as an animator fills the role of a lead romcom character having a "sexy" job. This aspect of her character also provides a premise for some artistic animation in the film.
The related obstacles that delay the inevitable romance between Wallace and Chantry at the end of "WHAT" include his belief that any relationship that begins with the break up of another relationship never ends well and his desire to not interfere with the stable and loving relationship that Chantry shares with live-in boyfriend Ben.
The blessing and the curse of "WHAT" is that it abandons the more traditional romcom model of a series of outrageously wacky situations and schemes related to the pursuit of real love in favor of a more low-key story of the development of the friendship between the leads and a somewhat gradual realization (and acceptance) of the fact that they are the person for the other. This genre is also blessed (plagued?) by casting '70s sitcom actors as the oddball parents of at least one lead.
Similarly, an alternative pop soundtrack replaces the Motown or pop music from the '70s or the '80s songs that usually provide the background for these films.
In other words, "WHAT" is not your older sister's romcom.
At the same time, "WHAT" does not completely abandon the conventions of the Katherine Heigl vehicles that come before it. The highly contrived amusing scene in which Wallace and Ben meet consists of several minutes of schtick that Radcliffe magically pulls off.
A less amusing scene has Wallace coming to the rescue of Chantry in a department store dressing room. The latter is simply less skilled at physical comedy and embarrassed charm than the former.
The nude scene that is a tradition in every Radcliffe film since the Potter series comes during a decent skinny dipping sequence that represents the beginning of the end for Ben in the life of Chantry.
This mix of traditional and neo romcom elements results in a film that will appeal to fans of both and shows devotees of Radcliffe that he can do anything.
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