There are a couple of terrific characters in "What If," the sort around which you'd want to build a unique romantic comedy.
Unfortunately, they're the best friends and not the protagonists.
Someone really should cast these two, Adam Driver and Mackenzie Davis, in a picture about hipster types who meet, fall in love and are forced to grapple with the burdens of domesticity after giving birth to a son. I'd pay to see that.
Sadly, they're relegated here to the standard advise-and-consent parts in director Michael Dowse's crack at breathing some life into the stale genre.
The movie is really about an everyday, boring medical school dropout named Wallace (a stiff Daniel Radcliffe) and his will-they-or-won't-they tête-à-tête with kindhearted animator Chantry (Zoe Kazan), who happens to have a long-term boyfriend named Ben (Rafe Spall).
The movie has smarter-than-average dialogue for this sort of thing, but it's fundamentally a familiar journey through a series of antiseptic indie romance clichés, mixing dopey humor with a heap of whimsy and plenty of confoundingly awkward situations as the characters perform their dance of connection. It's very much rooted in movie land: sequences such as one in which Driver and Davis steal the main characters' clothes and drive away during a camping trip have no basis in the way people actually conduct themselves.
The proverbial heart is in the right place here, but "What If" is stricken with the same old problems.
Directed by Michael Dowse | Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver | Rated PG-13 | Playing at Lincoln Square, Union Square