What If Movie Poster Image

What If

(i)

 

Sweet but mature romcom about friends in love.
  • Review Date: August 7, 2014
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 102 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

One of the messages is that it's tough for men and women to be platonic friends without sexual tension and chemistry. The other is that love is messy and doesn't always work out perfectly, but if you have something good, you have to hold onto to it to make it work.

Positive role models

Wallace and Chantry are genuinely likable characters who are good friends to each other and others. Allan and Nicole want the best for their friends and give decent advice.

Violence

Comic violence includes a man accidentally pushing another man out of a window, leading to tears, confusion, and an ambulance visit to the ER. Later, an angry boyfriend punches a man he believes is sleeping with his girlfriend.

Sex

Partial nudity includes back shots of the leads running into the ocean to go skinny dipping. It's dark, so their bodies are shown mostly in silhouette, but the woman tells the man, "I'll look if you look." Nicole and Allan passionately make out in front of others, and in one scene, Allan exclaims that he just had sex and is about to have nachos. Lots of passionate and playful kissing scenes, a short-lived attempt at phone sex, and an awkward moment when a woman needs her male friend's help undressing.

Language

Fairly frequent strong language includes "a--hole," "bitch," "s--t," and one "f--k."

Consumerism

Brands featured include Apple (MacBook, iPhone), Volkswagen, Pepsi, vintage Jeep Grand Cherokee, Air Canada, and the movie The Princess Bride.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Twentysomethings drink often (mostly wine and beer) in social situations: a party, dinner, a club, a camping trip. A couple of characters purposely get drunk to deal with a sad situation. A man deals with his first fight with his wife by drinking lots of beer and shouting insults at an elderly group of bocce players at the park.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that What If is a quirky romantic comedy -- starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan -- about the difficulty of being close platonic friends with someone of the opposite sex. The twentysomething romcom is best for mature teens who understand the idea of romantic tension between friends. Expect a lot of sexual references and shots of people kissing, making out, and even seeing each other naked (there's partial nudity during a skinny-dipping scene) for the first time. Language is fairly frequent; there's one "f--k," as well as "s--t" and "a--hole." Fans of movies like Like Crazy, Crazy, Stupid Love, and One Day will be smitten with this tale of true love in your twenties.

What's the story?

In WHAT IF, Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) is a recent Toronto med school dropout getting over a cheating ex. He shows up at his college roommate Allan's (Adam Driver) house party, where he meets a beautiful and funny woman who turns out to be Allan's cousin Chantry (Zoe Kazan). Just when Wallace thinks they have a spark, she casually mentions that she has a live-in boyfriend. After bumping into each other again, Chantry convinces Wallace to have a platonic friendship, since they have so much in common. Dozens of conversations, emails, and outings later, Wallace meets the boyfriend, Ben (Rafe Spall), who secretly threatens him if it turns out that Wallace wants more than friendship. As their relationship continues to grow, Wallace must deal with his increasingly romantic feelings toward Chantry, who seems to think she can manage being "just friends" without wanting more.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

A direct cinematic descendant of When Harry Met Sally, What If (or The F Word, as it's titled in Canada) explores the age-old question of whether men and women can be close, even best, friends without sexual tension getting in the way. Of course, the answer is usually no, but that doesn't mean Canadian director Michael Dowse doesn't make this a charming and occasionally unpredictable little love story about friends who really, really try to keep things in the "friends zone" but ultimately can't deny that their connection is more than they can bear.

Driver (who's playing a more commitment-ready variation of his Girls character) and his PDA-happy girlfriend-turned-wife Nicole (stunner Mackenzie Davis) are perfectly cast as a passionate new couple who do their best to force Wallace to admit his feelings to Chantry, but Wallace would rather suffer in silence than ruin his genuinely deep friendship. Radcliffe and Kazan are almost too adorable and charming and share a palpable chemistry that makes their connection easy to believe. The beautiful indie soundtrack (lots of Patrick Watson and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) provides a lovely accompaniment to the story, which takes melancholy turns. The script, based on a play, doesn't let Chantry or Wallace off the hook for thinking they could be fair to her boyfriend if they kept their own attachment going. A hopeful love story about friendship being an ideal cornerstone for any epic romance, What If is an enchanting indie romcom.

 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of the friends-to-more storyline. Why is that such a beloved plot in love stories? Do you agree that it's hard for men and women to be "just" friends?

  • How does What If depict sexual relationships? What about drinking? How are sex and drinking portrayed differently when the characters are in their 20s than when they're underage?

  • Do you agree with Wallace's idea that a relationship that starts "dirty" -- with someone cheating -- is likely to end that way as well?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 8, 2014
DVD release date:November 25, 2014
Cast:Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver
Director:Michael Dowse
Studio:CBS Films
Genre:Comedy
Topics:Friendship
Run time:102 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sexual content including references throughout, partial nudity and language

This review of What If was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 17 years old Written byB-KMastah September 5, 2014

Incredibly predictable, but really cute.

This is movie is predictable as hell, but Radcliffe and Kazan are great together and the movie is well-paced and enjoyable throughout. Although the film's narrative structure is full of tropes and has its share of plot contrivances, the script works well on a smaller, more human level thanks to the realistic and quick dialogue. It's a funny and pleasant 101 minutes, and even if you know how it ends right from the beginning, you enjoy the journey because they're so damn adorable. (But side note: there's one scene here that's so much like a scene from Drinking Buddies that they had to have seen that beforehand.) That's it. Shortest review ever. 7.3/10, good, one thumb up, above average, etc.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 15 years old Written byJflores14 August 18, 2014

Sweet and hilarious romcom is very mature

This sweet movie about two weird people becoming friends and trying to find love. While sweet and entertaining it is very crass and sexual. CONTENT: Violence: a man falls out of a window (played for laughs). A man is punched and falls down a flight of stairs. A woman throws a man out of her car. Sex: a woman's rear is shown nude. Two people strip on a beach. A woman is shown in her bra and panties. References to casual sex, bjs, hand jobs, and threesomes. Characters make out heavily. Sex is shown as casual and with no commitment. Language: 1 use of f**k. 20+ uses of a**hole and s**t. B***h and ba****d are used once or twice. 3-4 uses of d**k. MY RATING: PG-13/ for strong language throughout, sexual content and references throughout, comedic violence, alcohol use, smoking, nudity, and crude content
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written byhaa2015 September 1, 2014

Quirky and funny, raunchy but realistic

This movie was a breath of fresh air among flocks of cheesy, unrealistic, and predictable rom-coms that plague our theaters today. It's a bit raunchy and I wouldn't recommend it for kids under 17, as it talks about sex very casually and contains mature themes, but it is an AMAZING movie that I'll definitely see again.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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