IF offers up an imaginative, magical story – movie review

By Alexandra Heilbron on May 16, 2024 | Leave a Comment


Cailey Fleming in a poster for IFJohn Krasinski made a strong directorial feature debut with the award-winning 2018 film A Quiet Place, which has gone on to become a franchise. He shows his versatility with IF, an imaginative comedy for children.

The main character in IF is Bea (Cailey Fleming), a 12-year-old girl whose mother recently died of cancer. Her father (played by Krasinski) is now in the hospital, awaiting heart surgery. To keep his daughter from being too stressed, he constantly jokes, hoping to lighten the mood.

Bea, who is staying with her grandmother (Fiona Shaw) at her apartment in Brooklyn while her father stays at the hospital, manages to find another way to keep her mind off the possibility of losing another parent. She comes across Cal (Ryan Reynolds), who lives one floor up in the building, with an assortment of “imaginary friends” aka “IFs.” Bea is immediately enchanted with the IFs and wants to help Cal find them new homes.

Up to this point, the movie moves slowly, without the humor seen in the trailers and “spots” that were released to promote the film, including the appearance of “Asian Jim” Randall Park posing as John Krasinski, a gag that appealed to fans of Krasinski’s character in the popular sitcom The Office. However, when Cal and Bea go to Coney Island to visit the IF retirement home and Cal tells Bea to use her imagination, the magic that Bea envisions, including a song and dance number, liven up the film.

The special effects seen during this segment are imaginative, with a character that pops out of a painting, slowly morphing from artwork into a real person. Cailey Fleming is a delight as Bea, who has a sunny disposition and more patience with the craziness that surrounds her than you would expect her to have. The only time the writing lets her down is when she’s interacting with her father and grandmother, as she seems to have little time and/or appreciation for them.

This may be a slight spoiler, but at a time I thought Mae was rushing to thank her grandmother for holding onto the artwork Mae had painted as a small girl, she was instead going to visit the IFs again. And in the hospital, although she spends some time with an outgoing little boy who calls to her from his room, she hurries in and out of her father’s room, stopping only long enough to give him more flowers before speeding out again.

The cast is filled with the voices of comedy stars, all of whom did incredible jobs. I knew Steve Carell provided the voice of the adorable purple IF named Blue (his child was color-blind), but if I hadn’t been aware of that in advance I wouldn’t have known — the same goes for the other famous cast members who provided voices.

I was happy that Krasinski plays a role in his latest feature film as a director/writer, and although he seems to try too hard as the father, it’s purposely done because his character is trying his utmost to distract his daughter (and himself) from the seriousness of his upcoming surgery, even though she tells him he needn’t bother because she’s not a child anymore.

As a director, Krasinski puts detail into every little flourish, from the many magical scenes and special effects in the retirement home to small touches, such as Bea’s grandmother watching the old James Stewart film Harvey (about a man with an imaginary bunny as a friend) on television. Even the credits themselves had funny bits to watch for — including one instance in which Brad Pitt is mentioned.

The children attending the advance screening loved it, cheering as the credits rolled (make sure to stay for a couple of post-film scenes at the beginning of the credits).

4 out of 5 stars.

If you have seen IF and would like to rate/review it yourself, click here.



Comments & Discussion

  1. LindaAnne • May 24, 2024 @ 2:13 PM

    There are several poignant moments that are beautifully directed by Krazinski. I cried those salty tears when the grandmother began to remember her IF and I realized that the point of the movie was to always stay connected to your childlike imagination and creativity. And, after all the credits there is another touching moment with a loving tribute to one of the voice actors,

  2. LindaAnne • May 25, 2024 @ 1:41 PM

    There are several poignant moments that are beautifully directed by Krazinski. I cried those salty tears when the grandmother began to remember her IF and I realized that the point of the movie was to always stay connected to your childlike imagination and creativity. And, after all the credits there is another touching moment with a loving tribute to one of the voice actors,


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