What If ★★★½

Formulas work.

The F Word is a conventional rom-com. The F Word doesn’t eviscerate rom-com cliches like They Came Together, and doesn’t make political statements like Obvious Child. But man is it romantic, and man is it funny.

The F Word follows the mandatory rom-com plotline: two urban young people with ridiculous jobs meet cute, become close, fight and fall apart, then reconcile. Meanwhile, less-realistic, more outwardly comedic best friends provide bad advice and hilarity. This plotline should be insufferable by this point, but great actors prove the old formula still has value. Zoe Kazan gives honestly one of my favorite performances of the year. Adam Driver solidifies his position as one of the funniest and most captivating actors working today (even if he’s just doing his Girls character).

And it’s not like The F Word is entirely generic. It quite obviously pays homage to Rob Reiner films of yesteryear, and hilariously skewers the awful cliche of one a man chasing a girl before she travels. It’s clever enough to know it’s using formula, gently point that out, but still make the most of that formula.

P.S. This movie was released as What If in the U.S. thanks to the ridiculous MPAA, but it’s titled The F Word.

Joel liked these reviews