[Courtesy of Paramount Pictures]

Movie Review: IF

07:00 May 22, 2024
By: David Vicari

IF (2024)

IF is a change of pace for writer, producer, and director John Krasinski after the effective horror pictures A Quiet Place 1 and 2. This is a moderately charming fantasy-comedy about a young girl helping people reunite with their "IFs" or imaginary friends.

[Courtesy of Paramount Pictures]

12-year-old Bea (Cailey Fleming), still grieving the death of her mother from cancer, temporarily moves in with her grandmother (Fiona Shaw) while her dad (Krasinski) undergoes heart surgery. While exploring her grandmother's apartment building, she spots a few strange creatures and a grumpy human named Cal (Ryan Reynolds). It's Cal's job to place imaginary friends with new children after their original kids have grown out of them. Bea decides to help Cal in his work, and her first assignment is helping a big, purple, furry creature named Blue (voiced by Steve Carell) find a new child.

IF explored the same themes as the Toy Story films, especially Toy Story 2, but not quite as well. The screenplay to IF feels like an early draft as it is kind of scattershot and clunky. There are too many tangents—Blue attempting to reunite with his now grown child, the wise but lonely old teddy bear (voice of Louis Gossett Jr.) who longs for the days of old, finding an IF for a sick boy (Alan S. Kim) in the hospital, finding the identity of the grandmother's IF, and the mystery of who Cal really is, and several more story threads. There are also three musical numbers/interludes wedged in that feel like filler. Maybe this should have been an actual musical.

The character of Bea doesn't really make sense. She is dealing with these heavy burdens and doesn't want to be treated like a kid, but throughout the film, she acts like a kid who is imaginative and believes in the magical.

The performances are good and there are laughs, but what saves the movie in the end is its emotional core. As crazy as it sounds, IF is able to pull itself together for a deeply emotional final act. Who knew?

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