hopscotchee: zoe kazan score: 52 rating: pg-13 time: 102 minutes
buckle in for the chuckle...or the cringe for this movie contains a high amount of both!! formally titled and otherwise known as the f word, our next hopscotched film, what if, serves several situationally awkward moments as it explores, once again, the ever so classically cliché concept of 'can a man and a woman just be friends' or are they flovers (friend-to-lovers since they can't simply stay platonic). adapted from the sweet novel, toothpaste and cigars by tj dawe and michael rinaldi, this even sweeter rom com stars a beloved and familiar face: the one and only, daniel radcliffe, as the lead love interest, wallace (for anyone who ever crushed on a harry potter, when they were younger, to live out their fantasies as they watch him play the brokenhearted bachelor, searching for 'the one').
that said, being as much fans of space warriors as wizards, this movie holds just as much of an appeal with the clear breakout star of this film...mr. adam frickin' driver!! hitting the theaters in 2014, as the charismatically brazen best friend along side daniel radcliffe, mr. driver has since had quite the impressive acting career, taking part in binge-worthy tv shows, the epic star wars franchise, and academy acclaimed films. however, though what if may not seem as notable of a role in comparison to the other works in his mighty acting catalog, the deliverance of causality and laidback-ness throughout his portrayal of allan should not be undermined. standing out for more than just his fantastically funny height difference (between his 6' 2" appearance and daniel's 5' 5"), driver's upliftingly goofy presence brings a shinning comedic delight to the film and smiles all around!!
if you couldn't tell, we're fans of adam driver. but now to talk about the movie, let's jump immediately into it, starting with the party scene. right off the bat, our biggest take away from this scene was how the party actually felt like a party...we know, duh. you're probably thinking 'of course it felt like a party, it's the party scene' but you'd honestly be surprised by how many films royally screw up the vibe of a party and portray them in such an unrealistic light. it drives us completely bonkers!! we totally respect and appreciate the set designers involved, but when a party becomes too stylized or borders an instagram aesthetic, it can be extremely distracting for the audience and take away the impact that relatable environments or events have on the audience. to this, the intro scene's crowdedness and homey feel was very much seen, noted, and appreciated on this end, making a bigger impact especially when (spoiler) our two lovebirds, wallace and chantry, meet for the first time -- which love it or hate it, but the 'let's spell out words on the fridge meet queue' just screamed rom com, so the excessive sappiness of this factor didn't seem redundant or gratuitous to the film's purpose as it matched the cute and adorable genre it identified as. however, yes, we're not gonna not call a thing a thing, it was slightly cheesy.
unfortunately, however, going off that point, as much as what if hit the mark on realism with the party scene, the rest of the movie didn't quite follow this same pattern. jumping around a lot from their quirkily charming characters' interactions in convenient, 'just so happened' situations all for 'good fun', although common in the rom com genre, was a little bit of a stretch on the story side of things. as discussed, this type of storytelling is a trademark for the movie's fit genre, so this isn't in any way a comment targeted from disappointment or failure on their part, but it however does hold back the film's full impression for the viewer. for instance, whether it was chantry's perfectly matched outfits, the (spoiler) cringy dressing room undressing scene, spontaneous wedding, or awko taco (awkward) steal-your-clothes-naked-on-the-beach-sleepover-prank, which lead to the next morning's classic 'ooh burn' moment with wallace's shove of the sleeping bag and "you're an a**hole" comment to allan, while building the greater plot of the friends' difficulty to just stay friends, these moments cement the 'you had to be there' response, keeping the friend's love story completely situational and otherwise not possible. yes, love is different for everyone, and one could say this is just a unique story, but for those watching this, hoping for the slightest chance that, playing with the title's ponderous concept of 'what if', this could be them, chantry and wallace's oddly cringy and specific love story seen through romantic moments loses empathic value for the audience to attach to.
simply spelling it out for ya'll, what if is an all-out-romantically-cheesey rom com that is a whole summersaulted turn of events with a lot of laughter, cringe, and mixing pot of swelling emotions from stand out characters and special moments sprinkled throughout the film; however moments and characters that that only pertain and can only relate to the film and its story. since, even though you'll easily enjoy this movie, you'll sadly only be able to enjoy it from a distance, not getting to put yourself in the characters' places and, yes, not getting to image yourself ending up with harry potter :(
-- thanks, zoe xo