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Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 10:02 pm

Fey 'What If" an Exercise in Irritation

 It’s hard for me to put into words just how much Michael Dowse’s What If irritated me.  Not so much like fingernails on a chalkboard, which is thankfully only a brief annoyance but more like being on an airplane, sitting in front of small child whose constant yammering and kicking of the back of your seat begins as mildly exasperating and progresses to the point where you either want to turn around and duct tape the kid’s mouth shut and legs together or simply hurl yourself from the plane.  Yeah, this movie bothered me about that much.

Blog PhotoIt’s not that I have a problem with romantic comedies, of which What If is a very poor example.  No, it’s the fact that the characters in it are so twee. Yeah that’s it, twee, far too cute for their own good, with the cast delivering such affected performances that the characters don’t come off as real but as constructs created simply to utter wry witticisms, all of whom sound the same as screenwriter Elan Mastai, adapting the play by T.J. Dawe, doesn’t bother to provide them with distinctive voices.  Yep, everyone in the film is a smart aleck who always has a lame quip at his or her disposal.  So, so tiresome…

When we first see Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) he’s sitting on top of the house where he lives, not for any real reason but because it’s a cute, eccentric way to introduce the character.  Having dropped out of medical school, he’s been nursing a broken heart since being dumped by a fellow student.  However, things are about to get much more complicated when he stops being the whiner on the roof and comes down to join a party being thrown by his insufferable roommate Allan (Adam Driver, playing a role that’s quickly becoming known as the “Adam Driver role.”) There he meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan), a flighty young animator who’s engaged to Ben (Rafe Spall), who’s a bit of a tool but he has a great job, is good-looking and endures fey names like “Chantry.”

Blog PhotoBefore you know it, Wallace and Chantry find themselves attracted to each other but decide to remain friends so as not complicate things between them and prolong the agony for the rest of us.  We all know how this is going to end and the fact that Radcliffe and Kazan have no chemistry only seems to prolong the journey to the inevitable.  Repeated bits of witty repartee like “Are you alone?” followed by “You mean in the universe?” when a simple “Yes” or “No” would suffice is like rubbing salt in the wound.  No, there’s no magic here, just a collection of clichés uttered by stereotypes, a combination that had me asking, “What if the money spent to make this movie was spent to feed the poor?”  What if I could somehow get the 102 minutes of my life I wasted on this movie?”  What if… 

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