Our Review

                              Movie:  IF

           Rating:  PG, thematic elements and                                   mild language

                                           Length:  1:44

                Release Date: May 17, 2024

Jeanne: IF is another prime example of a clever --- and intriguing --- storyline sabotaged by an inexplicable execution of said idea --- and less-than-imaginative writing. What should have been an early summer blockbuster for children of all ages is, instead, a disappointing experience despite a couple of rather inspired performances.


Cailey Fleming plays Bea, a young girl whose life is upended by one tragedy, and now she’s facing another. She’s temporarily moved to Brooklyn, New York, to stay with her grandmother, portrayed with panache by the wonderful Fiona Shaw, while her father (John Krasinski) undergoes heart surgery in a New York hospital.


Her grandmother resides in a stunning old brownstone on a beautiful tree-lined street. Upon hearing noises in their apartment, Bea investigates and meets Cal (Ryan Reynolds), who lives on the top floor along with Blossom (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge), a one-time imaginary friend in the shape of a butterfly, and a few other imaginary friends or IFs for short.


Not everyone can see the IFs, but for some reason Bea has gained that ability. Cal takes Bea to meet other IFs who live below an amusement park --- one Bea and her parents had visited. All these IFs have been abandoned by the kids who they once helped --- and now they are lonely and feeling useless. It becomes Bea and Cal’s mission to try and reunite the IFs with their former best friends.

It's really a sweet notion, and IF does have some truly poignant moments. However, the setup in the screenplay takes forever to gel, and by the time Cal and Bea get to work, the interest in their efforts has waned. The film comes to life when Blue (voiced by Steve Carell), the purple furry guy in all the posters, finds his now adult friend, Jeremy (Bobby Moynihan), and they reconcile. It’s very precious --- but too late.


Written, directed and produced by Krasinski, IF boasts an incredible voice cast. Along with Carell and Waller-Bridge, the laundry list of famous names like Louis Gossett, Jr., who passed away this past March, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Maya Rudolph, Jon Stewart, George Clooney, Awkwafina, Blake Lively, Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, Bill Hader, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Meloni, Richard Jenkins, Keegan-Michael Key and Sebastian Maniscalco is astounding.


Unfortunately, most of the IFs voiced by these actors get very little screen time. Which is part of the problem. Perhaps Krasinski’s script would have fared better had he concentrated on fewer IFs and focused on more reunions. Who knows? But as it stands, IF is a jumbled mess that most likely won’t hold the attention of its intended audience.


Despite these drawbacks, Fleming’s performance is amazing. She has an incredible range of emotions, including the ability to shed real tears without overacting. She’s quite charming and shares a wonderful chemistry with Reynolds, who also delivers a convincing portrayal, though somewhat subdued compared to other parts he’s played. At times, he seems almost flat, but that is due to the writing more than his acting abilities.


Shaw’s role is not a large one, but it is pivotal --- and she is marvelous. She has such an extraordinary range --- from an MI6 chief in ‘Killing Eve’ to doting grandmother here. And Moynihan gives a nice turn as Jeremy, along with Liza Colón-Zayas, who plays Janet, Bea’s father’s nurse.


Though IF may be lacking in its implementation, the music by Oscar, Emmy and Grammy winner Michael Giacchino, is absolutely phenomenal. It’s almost --- almost --- worth seeing IF for the soundtrack alone.


Opinion: Wait for VOD

David: Expectations were high going into the screening for the new live action/animated film IF, written and directed by John Krasinski. Starring Ryan Reynolds as the best-known live-action figure in the film, IF boasts a Who’s Who of Hollywood favorites in voice roles.


This list includes the likes of Steve Carell, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Emily Blunt and Matt Damon. Oh, and Maya Rudolph, Jon Stewart, Sam Rockwell and Christopher Meloni. Wait, there’s more: Richard Jenkins, Awkwafina, Blake Lively and Amy Schumer. Not to mention Keegan- Michael Key, Vince Vaughn, Bill Hader and Matthew Rhys. Oops, almost forgot --- Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt and George Clooney.


The problem with this star-studded voice cast is that it is almost impossible to decipher which actor is attached to which character. After all, that’s mainly the fun watching a film with famous actors providing the voices of animated characters. But there just wasn’t sufficient screen time for this multitude to be heard.


Helping Reynolds in the live-action portion of IF is the very talented 17-year-old Cailey Fleming, known largely for her role on TV’s ‘The Walking Dead’. Fleming’s character Bea and Reynolds’ Cal team up to reunite people who had imaginary friends, or IFs, as children. But now that they are adults, they have forgotten their IFs and no longer need them, or so we are told.

Fleming and Reynolds display enough chemistry to make their quest believable, and Krasinski as Bea’s father is very affecting as they try to rebuild their lives. And Fleming emotes quite honestly as she cannot cope with the possibility of losing her father who faces critical surgery.


But the biggest problem with Krasinski’s production is that the payoff to the story comes very late. In other words, the movie spends way too much time building its raison d’etre --- until the final 30 minutes. There are some amusing moments and the key voice characters supplied by Carell (as Blue) and Waller-Bridge (as Blossom) are appealing enough. One of Jeanne’s favorites, Fiona Shaw, is certainly engaging as Bea’s grandmother. A major plus of IF is the music composed by the amazing Michael Giacchino, Oscar winner for UP.


With its PG rating parents may opt to take their younger children to see IF. But kids of a young age will have a hard time figuring out what’s going on.


Given the fact that John Krasinski and I attended the same high school --- albeit many years apart --- in suburban Boston, I was hoping to give IF a much stronger recommendation.


Opinion:  Wait for VOD