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What If

It’s easy to joke about Daniel Radcliffe (not in a mean way but like you would an adorable little brother). Still, we’ll all have to stop now, because Harry Potter is all grown-up—and he can act. Radcliffe is lovely in this hipsterish rom-com, playing a med-school dropout who falls in love with a girl (Zoe Kazan) at a house party in Toronto. They bond over fridge magnets. She leaves it until the walk home to tell him her relationship status: “My boyfriend will be wondering what happened to me.” The rest of the film is a will-they-won’t-they (what do you think?) update of When Harry Met Sally. They go on friend-dates, play Ping-Pong, trade flirty banter, some of it brilliant, some of it meh (“A pickle jar is like a tomb for cucumbers”).

For Radcliffe, it’s your classic Hugh Grant role: bumbling Brit in a suit jacket. But for a kid who grew up in public, he does a convincing job of playing a normal guy. (It helps that he’s no one’s idea of leading-man handsome and practically a foot shorter than everyone else.) There’s a great scene in a diner where it hits him that he’s losing his girl. As his face collapses, you can see his heart breaking. By the end, you’re rooting for him to get his happy ending. The trouble with What If is its flood of overfamiliar setups: boy reveals true feelings in a best man’s speech; boy catches glimpse of his one true love in a fitting room. And someone really should ban skinny-dipping from movies. The less said about our two leads’ pretentiously picked names—Wallace and Chantry—the better. Not even J.K. Rowling herself could have dreamed those up for a pair of know-it-all wizards.

Release details

Rated: PG-13
Release date: Friday August 8 2014
Duration: 102 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Michael Dowse
Screenwriter: Elan Mastai
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe
Jemima Rooper
Zoe Kazan
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