Trailer Face-Off: What If vs. This is Where I Leave You

Published June 12, 2014

Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: What If vs. This is Where I Leave You, two films featuring Adam Driver in a supporting role and about falling in and out of love.

PremiseIn What If, medical school dropout Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) decides to temporarily put his love life on hold, even though everyone around him seems to be meeting the perfect match. His roommate, Allan (Adam Driver), meets Nicole (Mackenzie Davis) and soon thereafter, Wallace meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan). Despite Wallace trying to leave love behind and Chantry’s longtime boyfriend with whom she lives, the two feel an immediate chemistry. Throughout the film their close relationship explores the age-old question: can men and women maintain purely platonic friendships?

Love—or at least romantic love—is not quite as central in This is Where I Leave You. Judd Foxman (Jason Bateman) catches his wife having an affair and, only a few days into the grieving process, receives news from his sister Wendy (Tina Fey) that his father passed away. Judd, Wendy, and their two other brothers (Adam Driver and Corey Stoll) are forced to revisit their childhood home and spend seven days under the same roof as their mother (Jane Fonda). The film takes us through the ups and downs of grievance, heartbreak, and, of course, familial chaos.Advantage: What If

The CastAs noted above, What If  has an indie all-star cast. Daniel Radcliffe solidified his escape from the undending recognition as Harry Potter with his role in Kill Your Darlings and Zoe Kazan proved herself as an indie starlet early on, but most recently we remember her from her role as Ruby in Ruby Sparks. While both films share Adam Driver, his co-stars in This is Where I Leave You don’t quite measure up. Don’t get us wrong—Tina Fey is hilarious, but we’re more excited to see Radcliffe in his debut rom com.Advantage: What If

The DirectorIn addition to its indie cast, What If also has an indie director, Michael Dowse. Unfortunately, however, this fact falls to the film’s disadvantage, because according to IMDb, Dowse is most well known for It’s All Gone Pete Tong, Goon and Furba—-none of which we’ve seen. On the other hand, Shawn Levy, the director of This is Where I Leave You, has previously directed Night at the Museum, The Internship and Date Night. Although none of those are our favorites, at least we’ve seen them.Advantage: This is Where I Leave You

The Ability to Make us Feel GoodWith movies like these, we don’t want to feel depressed or reminded of our own problems. We would be hopeful, even if it’s imaginary and unlikely to become reality. The cast of This is Where I Leave You is sure to bring comedy to the table, but the plot line seems too emblematic of family drama that happens in our own lives. What If also closely resembles real life situations, but simultaneously presents us with hope that a platonic best friend relationship might turn into something more. Obviously neither trailer spoils the ending, so we can’t be sure, but here’s to hoping Radcliffe and Kazan end up together.Advantage: What If

The Verdict While This is Where I Leave You might have a greater chance at box office success, the cast of What If has swayed us. We couldn’t ask for a better set of our favorite young stars to appear together in one film.Winner: What If

Trailer Face-Off runs every Thursday. For more, click here.