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Can a man and a woman be friends? Especially if one of the two had a romantic interest in the other from the start?
Review (with Spoilers)
Though I often complain about Zoe Kazan’s work since Ruby Sparks, I only complain and critique because I care. But with her being paired with the great Daniel Radcliffe, I felt reassured that this movie would be good. But with the idea being that this movie was about a guy putting himself in the fictional “friend zone” I must admit I was worried. To see if the worries were justified, look below.
Characters & Story
After being cheated on, Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) has taken a long break away from dating, but upon Allan (Adam Driver), his only friend, getting him to go to his house party, he ends up meeting Adam’s cousin Chantry (Zoe Kazan). A girl who he awkwardly falls for as they have weird little off and on conversations throughout the night. But when he learns Chantry has a boyfriend, named Ben (Rafe Spall), he seems pretty much done with her.
However, with a chance meeting at a movie theater he tries to be friends with her and tame his feelings. But as he gets closer to her his feelings don’t abate at all. If anything, they intensify to the point Allan and his girlfriend Nicole (Mackenzie Davis) try to present ways for them to maybe be together. Though with Chantry being with Ben for 5 years, and Ben seeming like he is mentally preparing to propose to Chantry, will Wallace accept friendship is the most he may get out of his relationship with Chantry or will fate have mercy on him?
There are two main highlights when it comes to the film: The story’s dialog which doesn’t seem overdone a la Juno, nor like most romantic comedies, and the fact that the characters take their time to get to know each other. Starting with character chemistry, in the film we see 3 relationships: Allan and Nicole’s, which shows your usual romance movie plot where they fall in love at first sight, fight, come back together, and etc; Ben and Chantry’s which is comfortable, cute, and committed; and then there is Chantry’s relationship with Wallace which, at first, presents that rarely shown idea that men and women can be friends.
And through their friendship, you get some very entertaining dialog which almost seems like “the best of” when it comes to conversations you might have had. Be it random topics like how did they come up with the name “Cool Whip,” thoughts about going to the movies by yourself, and just jabbing each other, their relationship seems to more so follow a real life natural development than the proverbial love at first sight method we see in Allan and Nicole. Which, of course, is complicated because Wallace has feelings for Chantry. Leading to a compelling story, I’m sure many have experienced dealing with, of how to deal with someone you care about, who is of the gender you like/ prefer. Also, can you maintain a sense of friendship, or is trying to be friends with someone of your sexual preference essentially impossible? Especially when your friendship is tested and you are put in intimate situations.
Leading to the criticism which deals with the film abandoning exploring the complications of being friends with someone of your sexual preference, and even taking a break from what felt like a genuine story, so it could quickly rush the idea that there is a chance that these two could get together. Which, for me, ruined most of what the movie presented for it really did taint everything. For while it was obvious throughout the movie that Wallace’s feelings may never go away, a part of me was really hoping that he’d learn to just be happy for Chantry and either date her sister Dalia (Megan Park), get back with his ex, or maybe just be satisfied being the father figure to his nephew Felix (Lucius Hoyos). But I guess as much as this film does try to stand out, it is easier to wrap things up in your usual romance film formula than even stand out a little and make it seem that being friends is really a possibility at all.
Overall: TV Viewing
Through the first half to three-quarters of the film, I was unsure whether to label this as worth seeing or not. But with Wallace deciding to do a grand romantic gesture, and then the dialog becoming like a generic romance movie, I no longer had a tough decision. For with Wallace deciding to end his quiet suffering and try to make a happy ending for himself/ the movie, all the appeal of this movie seeming different was instantly loss. So the saving grace, overall, was the fact that even after the grand gesture, and going generic for a little while, the film got back the dialog which made it interesting in the first half. And while I may not have personally liked where the story went, it doesn’t mean this is a bad movie. Hence why the TV Viewing label. Its dialog and story make you feel the film has potential to stand out and not be like almost every romance movie out there, and even though it falters and leads you to think it will end up just like every romance movie, it rebounds just enough for a decent finish.