What If

Whilst flying from Manila to SFO last month, I decided to trust my instincts and triple-rom-com-feature it. This strategy worked well on a trans-oceanic flight I took a few years ago; I watched No Strings Attached, Blue Valentine and Midnight in Paris en route to SFO from CDG. My reasoning: My emotions are heightened (as is my body! haaaa!) anyway, so if I’m going to cry, it may as well be in front of a bunch of people I’m definitely not going to see again (my travel pal notwithstanding); I had to stay awake to ensure that my sleep schedule would realign itself with little trouble; and I only had earbuds, so when I tried to watch a louder movie (ie, Guardians of the Galaxy), I just couldn’t hear anything at all. Strange how hearing loss will point you in the direction of your aeronautical/cinematic destiny. I totally made the right call. Of course, I don’t completely trust my recommendations of these movies because, as I said before, airplanes mess with your ability to level-headedly enjoy a movie, but the rom-comminess was exactly what I needed. And none of my choices contained Katherine Heigl or Kate Hudson as far as I could tell, so that’s good.

What If is, admittedly, a little pointless, because you know what’s going to happen as soon as you see the two main characters on screen together. I’ll just say, for the sake of being coy, that they start off as friends! It’s fun to watch anyway, though, for the sake of seeing Daniel Radcliffe blossom into his own unique brand of leading man. I never got on the Harry Potter train, so I’m a relatively new member of his fan club, and I have no frame of reference for his childhood acting capabilities. In any case, I find him so charming and refreshing in interviews that I’m inclined to root for him as he takes his career in this new direction. It helps that he’s very good at it. He also doesn’t look like everyone else on screen. He’s a short dude, distinctly accented, sort of pale, well-spoken, and very polite. He doesn’t exactly exude sex appeal. But he has a draw about him, an aura of good-naturedness, and an adorable face that all add up to attractiveness nonetheless. It’s hard to describe what I’m trying to say without outright saying “Daniel Radcliffe is a sexpot” or, alternately, “Daniel Radcliffe is not even a little bit hot.” I mean neither of those things. I just really like that he conjures up his own brand of appeal, I guess. I also enjoy that Adam Driver and Mackenzie Davis were cast as the crazy, stable, tall friend characters, rather than the “mains.” They both can play pretty zany, and they got to do a little of that in this movie, but mostly they were the voices of reason, making out in the background.

Radcliffe also has nice, effortless chemistry with Zoe Kazan. I imagine neither of them are particularly difficult people to have chemistry with, acting-wise, but again, it’s pleasant to watch both of them on screen together. I get a bit of a strong MPDG vibe from her, because her character name is fucking Chantry and she draws a lot, so I’m inclined to be wary. But she seems cool.

What If is, if nothing else, sweet. It’s enjoyable. It contains twentysomethings that present themselves to the world respectfully and don’t have a fuck-all attitude towards everyone, which is promising. They still make dumb relationship decisions, but that will never change.

Stay tuned for a post about the second movie in my triple feature experience. (I won’t be writing about the third because I rewatched one of my faves. Couldn’t help it. Had to see JGL dance again.)

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happythankyoumoreplease

It gives me great pleasure to unleash praise on a talented person. Josh Radnor is that talented person, and the praise is for his directorial and screenwriting debut, happythankyoumoreplease. It’s a sweet little indie movie, wherein Radnor (Ted Mosby, the still-single centerpiece on HIMYM) plays a character who is way less awesome than his real life self and is surrounded by many cool actors. No, it’s better than that. I was just trying to distill it down to a meaningless stereotype.

Anyway, yes, Radnor’s character is every bit as boringly lovable as Ted. Sam Wexler is a writer, a writer of short stories. (Wait for the metaphor to come up later. It’ll seem obvious and you’ll feel stupid, but then you’ll admire Radnor for getting you to suspend your disbelief.) He has a best friend with alopecia (the very convincing Malin Akerman), a whiny sister-like figure (Zoe Kazan) with a really awesome boyfriend (Pablo Schreiber), and a conscience that forces him to take care of a kid that gets left behind on the subway. He also encounters a major hottie (Kate Mara, who is indeed super hot) and convinces her to move in with him for three days. All the cliche stuff happens to make you feel good at the end of the movie——Sam gets his girl, friend learns to love herself (and Buster Bluth! Tony Hale for the win!), best friend fixes her relationship with her boyfriend, kid gets returned to the law, all that sort of stuff.

But I really like how Radnor went about describing the lives of these young New Yorkers, and that’s why I think Radnor has so much more interesting stuff up his slightly baggy sleeves. It’s as if he was telling a story, one without a beginning, a middle, or an end, or a climax, or any of that stuff. Just relating very good, delicious details about a few select people, and because he’s such a natural wordsmith, those stories wove their way into the story arc and made themselves a movie. It’s very relaxed and natural, and that’s why the “short story = guy can’t commit” metaphor still impressed me, even if I should have seen it coming.

Ted Mosby isn’t everyone’s favorite character, nor is Josh Radnor everyone’s favorite actor, and it’s probably because neither guy is particularly unique from a first impression. But that’s what I like about Radnor, and about all the Ted-like characters he plays. They’re dudes that you actually know, who are good at the core but wholly inconsistent and impulsive in their day-to-day behavior. I think Radnor captures that whenever he’s on the screen, and even more impressively, he can do it behind the camera and with pen to paper. I look forward to seeing what else he comes up with, and I can only hope that he won’t be pigeonholed into nice-guy roles for the rest of his life. Maybe he should attend the school of Fred Savage and Ron Howard and see how life is behind the camera more permanently. It certainly suits him. (Suit up!)