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'IF' review: Imaginary friends caught in a movie that doesn’t make any sense


Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

 

On one hand, you have to give some credit to writer-director John Krasinski for using his first picture deal with a major studio to churn out a big-budgeted, original PG movie for struggling theaters. Once upon a time, these films came out every other week and could be relied upon to make a decent chunk of change, but in the age of streaming that content pipeline has since dwindled. So while I root for “IF” and its hopeful commercial success, the final product is a classic example of a movie that provokes more questions than answers. 


The premise of “IF” is actually a pretty good one (what ‘if’ we existed in a world where you could see your childhood imaginary pals roaming the streets or co-existing under one roof?), but the execution and the logistics of how that narrative could play out is all over the place. And once the dust settles, you’re left with a movie that, while fluffed with an array of colorful characters, great visuals, solid production design and a wonderful score by Michael Giacchino, doesn’t really make any sense. 


Krasinski proved his directing chops with two sturdy “A Quiet Place” entries and while he claimed he made that movie about his kids, it’s evident “IF” was made with the intent of showing it to them. At its best, “IF” tries to invoke the vibes of a live-action Pixar movie, “Stuart Little,” or “Harvey” with its whimsical tone and high concept premise. Its overall purpose and what it’s trying to say regarding grief, growing up and everything in between is almost enough to squeak it past the finish line. Almost. 


Bea (Cailey Fleming, anchoring the film with a touching performance) is dealing with some serious issues when we’re introduced to her. Several years removed from her mother passing away, dad (Krasinski - pulling triple duties) is currently hospitalized for an upcoming heart surgery. While staying with her grandma (Fiona Shaw), she meets their upstairs neighbor Calvin (Ryan Reynolds - ditching the smart aleck routine for a tender role) whose primary job is to find homes for long forgotten imaginary friends (aka IFs) who are stuck in limbo. 


The IFs are an interesting batch and, not shockingly, the best piece of world building in this film. We meet an arsenal of various personalities and figures like a unicorn, astronaut, fuzzy teddy bear (voiced by the late Louis Gossett Jr.), an ice cube, marshmallow, and even an invisible IF everyone keeps tripping over named Keith. It’s Krasinski’s “The Office” castmate Steve Carrell who voices the primary IF in the movie: a fluffy, Grimace-like figure named Blue (even though he’s actually purple, but his “kid” was color blind - get it?). 


But how these IFs are incorporated into the story and the journey with which Calvin and Bea must relocate them is a head scratcher. At one point, we stumble upon a retirement home where all the forgotten one’s reside in the hopes one day they might be remembered by their person. You see the conundrum here. Why is Bea actively on a mission to “assign” them to new children when they want to be embraced by their old people? Why are IFs “assigned” anyhow? Isn’t the entire point of creating an imaginary friend to use your imagination to create something tailored for you? Also, what happens if an IF does get relocated with a new kid? In a few years, won’t they just end back up where they started when that kid inevitably forgets about them too? 


Perhaps I shouldn’t poke holes in a movie that’s primary objective is to entertain children, and the bright characters will probably be enough to win them over. Even if the laughs are few and far between. Krasinski wears his heart on his sleeve and is commendable for trying to use his street cred to make a movie about finding the joys and wonders of what life has to offer. If only it added up to anything even remotely coherent. 


Grade: C+ 


IF is now playing in theaters. 



3 comments

3 comentarios


john barrett
john barrett
30 jun

Can't believe grown men poking holes in a kids movie for clarification of ifs and buts, pardon the pun. It's an excellent movie for kids. End of story.

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Dimitri Pollich
Dimitri Pollich
18 jun

"Despite its whimsical premise and colorful characters, 'IF' ultimately fails to deliver a coherent narrative, leaving viewers with more questions than answers." coreball

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Steele Nickle
Steele Nickle
21 may

At one point, we stumble upon a retirement home where all the forgotten one’s reside in the hopes one day they might be remembered by their person. You see the conundrum here. geometry dash subzero

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