It's a treat to see Meg Ryan meet cute-ing again in "What Happens Later"

What Happens Later (2023)

Meg Ryan is back, co-starring and directing herself alongside David Duchovny in “What Happens Later,” an airport-set romantic comedy between mature adults. Based on Steven Dietz’s play “Shooting Star” and adapted by Ryan, Dietz & Kirk Lynn, the film is sprinkled with magical realism but also bittersweet poignancy. Just check all cynicism at the door, and you’ll get along fine.

It’s Leap Day (a magical day!) when two former lovers cross paths 25 years later inside a regional airport terminal during their connecting flights. Wilhelmina “Willa” Davis (Ryan), a quirky healing practitioner, is coming from Austin to fly into Boston, and William “Bill” Davis (Duchovny), a real estate broker, is coming from Boston to fly into Austin. Both see each other when the other isn’t looking and try hiding, but it doesn’t work. Willa and Bill are now face to face, forced to make small talk. They start catching up and right before they’re about to part ways, a snowstorm delays both of their flights, and their flights only. This gives both W. Davises time to reconnect and get down to what made them wrong for each other. Or, are they now right for each other?

Even with her absence from the screen, Meg Ryan still remains an engaging presence, a ray of light, just as she was in “When Harry Met Sally…,” Sleepless in Seattle,” and “You’ve Got Mail.” In lesser hands, the rain stick-wielding Willa might have come off too gratingly flighty to endure (she even writes phone numbers inside her shoes), but Ryan makes her more of a charming free-thinker. David Duchovny, aging like a fine wine, initially comes across as an uptight bore as Bill, proclaiming to have anticipatory anxiety. He gets easily irritated by the choice of music playing on the airport speakers (all of them are covers of popular songs and initially distracting but pleasing to hear), and then he openly admits to Willa’s personality being the reason they broke up. Put Ryan and Duchovny together, though, and they have a lovely chemistry with each other that feels more lived-in with both characters having history and mutual pain. By the end, we feel like we know Willa and Bill inside and out, and why they never worked out. Read the full review at

Grade: B - 

Bleecker Street released "What Happens Later" (105 min.) in theaters on November 3, 2023.