That would have less to do with the "rom" and the "com" and more with the thinness of the movie's overall concept. Sure, director Michael Dowse (
Fortunately, "What If" has a pair of charming, sympathetic leads in
Wallace, the wary product of adulterous parents, meets the equally glib Chantry at a party thrown by Wallace's best friend, Allan (Adam Driver, in ebullient guru mode), who conveniently is Chantry's cousin. Wallace and Chantry immediately hit if off, but there's a hitch: Chantry has a longtime boyfriend, Ben (Rafe Spall), an ambitious international copyright lawyer.
Chantry and Ben are apparently in love, which only leaves open the "friend" berth for Wallace. Undeniably taken with Chantry, Wallace steps into the buddy role with trepidation — and the clear if unspoken hope that a Chantry-Ben breakup is in the offing. (That Ben can be a formidable jerk is revealed early on to Wallace but not to Chantry, giving Wallace and the audience an unfair advantage.)
What follows is a predictable, often contrived, fitfully amusing journey as Wallace and Chantry navigate the ups and downs of being "just friends," while largely unproductive advice flows from those around them, including Allan, his girlfriend and later wife, Nicole (Mackenzie Davis); and Chantry's adorably promiscuous sister, Dalia (
The movie ultimately proves too cute by half as it works overtime to intoxicate us with its youthful romanticism, hyper-clever verbiage (really, why so many fecal references?) and fascination with a gross sandwich known as Fool's Gold.
Although "What If" nobly attempts to honor and embellish the tropes of the genre rather than reinvent them, the filmmakers get tripped up on their own good intentions and uncertain comedic instincts. The result is a passable date movie that exhausts when it should enchant.
MPAA rating: PG-13 for sexual content, partial nudity, language
Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes