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By Alan Ng | May 17, 2024

NOW IN THEATERS! John Krasinski takes us deep into the world of our imaginary friends in IF. Bea (Cailey Fleming) is a young girl who had to grow up fast after the death of her mother. Now, the maturation process is about to speed up as her father (John Krasinski) is in the hospital about to undergo heart surgery.

Bea now finds herself living in her childhood home with her grandmother (Fiona Shaw). When Grandma pulls out Bea’s art supplies, Bea quickly shuts her down, saying she’s not a child anymore and doesn’t do those things.

On the way home after visiting her father in the hospital, Bea spots a strange creature following her. Not wanting to be seen, the creature ducks off into the apartment upstairs. When she knocks, she is greeted by Cal (Ryan Reynolds), who tells her she’s seeing things. But eventually, the truth comes out. Cal is housing two retired imaginary friends, Blossom (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and Blue (Steve Carell).

Apparently, Cal has been trying to find new kids to adopt Blossom and Blue. Bea eagerly volunteers to help match them, but she needs to visit the world of imaginary friends and be trained by the wise teddy bear, Lewis (Louis Gossett, Jr.).

“Cal has been trying to find new kids to adopt Blossom and Blue.”

IF is a fine story for kids. Let’s just start here. This movie is for kids! It’s oozing with cute and truly odd imaginary friends. In fact, I don’t understand why some of these creatures are imaginary friends, like a glass of water with a single ice cube or a giant bubble (Awkwafina). A good kid’s film is one that appeals to children and adults at the same time. I think the creatures are cute and silly enough to pacify kids, but I’m just not sure this is a film for adults.

I wish IF was an independent film. The production values are too slick, giving it this big Hollywood production feel to it. I wish this film felt low-budget overall. Ryan Reynolds looks absolutely out of place as the pretty-boy Hollywood type overseeing an army of cute and cuddly characters. That said, the animation is seamless. The blending of CG and real-life characters reminded me of Who Framed Roger Rabbit but without nostalgia.

The standout star here is Cailey Fleming as Bea. She’s a kid with chops, and it is hard not to endear oneself to her plight throughout the film. She’s a movie star and has the presence of one onscreen. As far as the IF‘s go, adults will have fun figuring out who the characters’ voices are.

My biggest qualm is the ending…more the explanation of the film’s mystery. I figured it out early on, but it’s no big deal. I had to think long and hard about the ending. There are several plot holes that I’m sure writer/director Krasinski can explain, but I don’t have his email. I’m not sure kids will get it exactly, but there are touching moments that brought a tear to my eye.

I’m very mixed on IF. If you have young kids, I think they’ll have a good time. We, adults, will be mildly bored. In the end, it is a good production getting a bare recommendation.

IF (2024)

Directed and Written: John Krasinski

Starring: Cailey Fleming, Ryan Reynolds, John Krasinski, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Steve Carell, Louis Gossett Jr. , etc.

Movie score: 6/10

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"…I wish IF was an independent film."

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