Morgan Awyong
by Morgan Awyong

The best thing about the world of movies is their ability to allow us viewers some form of escapism. There’s no limit to the imagination, and with a million thoughts running through our heads each day, these talented filmmakers and scriptwriters have managed to wrangle in their light bulbs and create some amazing “what if” films.

They help us envision the alternative and challenge our perception, and most of the time, we walk away with an appreciation of what we have. Or sometimes, what we can change about ourselves or the world around us.

Yesterday is a most recent example of this exploration, and the incredulous situations it opens up leads to plenty of laughs and refreshing moments. Because can you imagine a world without The Beatles? Director Danny Boyle did.

Here are some other titles and directors that took us to their fantasy world of “what ifs”.


Yesterday (What if no one knew about The Beatles?)


As mentioned, director Boyle has put forth the shocking thought - what if The Beatles never existed? But he went to do one better: What if the whole world didn’t know about the existence of Beatles except for you?

In this case, Himesh Patel plays Jack Malik, a struggling musician who ends up in a road accident after a freakish blackout occurs, and wakes up to a lost tooth and a very strange world - one where no one has ever heard of the famous quartet. What does this mean? Instant success to Jack of course!

The story by Jack Barth and written by Richard Curtis is a riot to watch, and as Jack gamely “writes” all the Beatles classics to the virgin audience, he experiences all the things he has only dreamed about. But can using someone else’s song make you into someone else? Soon Jack discovers that his most beloved relationships are falling apart at the seams from his new found status, and that maybe he has been hankering after the wrong things in life.

Other than enjoying his thoughtful journey, watch out for hilarious cameos by celebrities such as James Corden and Ed Sheeren, who hams it up as a music coach.


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (What if we could erase our memories?)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Sometimes, life deals us with heartache, and one of the worst, is when a relationship comes to an end. We’ve all been there, and we’ve all had this thought - what if we could erase it all from our minds, to make the pain go away?

In the 2004 sci-fi film by Michel Gondry, the stylistic director spun a poignant tale of such a possibility. Lacuna, a New York firm which specialises in eradicating specific parcels of memory, offers this service to the public, and our two leads Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) and Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) does exactly that after a bitter end to their 2-year relationship.

The story follows Joel as he witnesses the process in his head, and the trippy scenes is as imaginative yet frightening as they come. From objects dissolving in everyday scenes to faceless people, the panic that sets in as Joel realises that he wishes to keep some of the good memories he has is the sort of realisation that punches you in the gut. The aching piece is critically acclaimed for good reason, and supported by a talented cast comprising of Tom Wilkinson, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood and Mark Ruffalo. If you want to see something that will make you forgive all the trespasses that has happened before, this would be the one.


Downsizing (What if we can be shrunk?)


With the world as it is -  a ballooning population and fast depleting resources - one unconventional solution might be to consume less… as a small person. This lighthearted piece by Alexander Payne is also written by Jim Taylor, and stars Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Jason Sudeikis and Kristen Wiig.

You can expect plenty of humour coming from all the obvious size jokes, along with a light touch of the philosophical as we ponder about the consequences of such a decision. While the overarching theme is about sustainability, it does bring up asset benefits and quality of life questions into the movie for some quirky discourse.

The film is visually fun to watch as we go tiny and view our world from that perspective, and the coexistence of the regular-sized folks and the shrunken 5 inch ones are also entertaining to watch. While we may never get this option for real, watching Damon’s character (Paul) navigate his life after running into unexpected obstacles is a howl.


Colossal (What if we can control monsters?)


Jason Sudeikis returns in this unexpected title, where even though it wasn’t a big commercial success, was widely praised for its original plot. Together with Anne Hathaway, the two are Oscar and Gloria, childhood friends who reconnect after Gloria is forced to retreat back to her hometown due to her crumbling life in the city.

As things further deteriorate, we see that Gloria clearly has a bad case of alcoholism. But even through that hazy existence, she is hooked to the appearance of a giant monster that appears in Seoul, and guess what - discovers that it is actually a personification of her! As she struggles to deal with this gargantuan issue, we can clearly see this as a clear metaphor of her “inner monsters” and the parallel of the wanton destruction in her life as well.

But as if that wasn’t enough, a new monster-robot appears and it isn’t as conscientious of Gloria’s twin. When we find out who the other monster is, we struggle to find a solution, which is why the ending is another surprising stroke of creativity. This 2016 project by Nacho Vigalondo is immensely satisfying.


Bruce Almighty (What if we have god-like abilities?)

Some people actually think that they are God’s gift, but in this movie, Bruce Nolan is actually God! Well for a week or so. Say hello to Jim Carrey again, but this time he plays the disempowered reporter Bruce. Unable to gain any respect or catch a break, he blames God for not doing a good job.

They always said that God has a sense of humour, and so in this misadventure tale, Morgan Freeman plays the divine one and imbues Bruce with all his powers, making the man omnipotent. And what does the ex-human do? Part his soup, make his dog pee in the toilet, and his girlfriend’s boobs bigger.

But as another famous movie character once said, “With great power comes great responsibility,” and Bruce quickly finds out being God is not all it’s cut out to be. But hey don’t worry, there’s always someone to take over. In this case, Evan Almighty is the sequel that has God trying his trick on Bruce’s newscaster friend. If you like your slapstick, these two are the ones for you.