IF (2024) Review

IF (2024)
After experiencing a family tragedy, 12-year-old Bea (Cailey Fleming) develops the ability to see imaginary friends. With the help of her neighbour Cal (Ryan Reynolds), they embark on a mission to reunite the IFs with their former owners.

by Kelechi Ehenulo |
Published on
Original Title:

IF (2024)

On paper, John Krasinski’s IF has all the right ingredients for a fun-filled, sentimental family adventure in the Amblin mould. It’s a sweet story about reconnecting with our ‘inner child’, and the wonders of our imagination, and in its concept of making IFs (short for “imaginary friend”) real, it brings to life an array of colourful characters. You can’t help but love the inventiveness on display when Cal (Ryan Reynolds) clambers out of a painting before partying on stage with all the IFs to Tina Turner’s ‘Better Be Good To Me’. It makes for a frequently magical viewing experience, despite a sometimes disjointed storyline.

IF (2024)

Krasinski has his heart in the right place, flexing his directorial muscles away from A Quiet Place to showcase his versatility as a filmmaker. For the most part, the switch from horror to children’s fantasy works. IF’s childlike vastness is influenced by every Disney/Pixar movie ever made, most specifically Toy Story, Monsters, Inc. and Up (Michael Giacchino’s famous theme music from the last, ‘Married Life’, plays in the opening credits). That wonder introduces us to Bea (The Walking Dead’s Cailey Fleming), whose ability to see the IFs sets her on an emotional journey to rediscover her own joy after the tragic heartbreak of her mother’s passing. Cue plenty of charm and heartfelt whimsy.

Yet, it’s a classic example of having too much of a good thing. For all its sweetness and star-studded cameos, the overstuffed plot never positions itself to settle on one coherent idea, be it a matchmaking service for IFs and new kids, or IFs reuniting with their old creators. The result leaves far too many questions to be satisfying, too many jokes falling flat, to reach its full potential. Still, Krasinski provides just enough sincerity to steady the ship, happy to vibe with Reynolds and Fleming’s moving performances. And with its touching conclusion and Giacchino’s affecting score, you’d be well advised to have the tissues on standby.

Far from perfect in its execution, but once IF hits its stride, Reynolds and Fleming keep this emotional adventure entertaining enough.
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