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'IF': Cute, Feel-Good Tale Explores Fatherhood and Imagination

| May 21, 2024 | By

Imaginary friends are no strangers to film and TV, from Bing Bong (Richard Kind) from Inside Out (2015) to Bloo (Keith Ferguson) from Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends (2004-2009).

Now we have animated Blossom (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Blue (Steve Carell), Cosmo (Christopher Meloni) etc. from the new film from John Krasinski, called IF (2024).

IF underperformed expectations in its first weekend, netting $35M (against a $110M budget). So, is this new imaginative adventure worth watching?

What Is IF? 

After losing her mother (Catharine Daddario), IF’s main character Bea (Cailey Fleming), comes to stay with her Grandma (Fiona Shaw), while her Dad (Krasinski) gets surgery. It’s here that she discovers a nursing home of IFs, a k a imaginary friends. She can see them all because they need her help to find new kids who need a friend, and she needs their help, too ... more on that later.

Written and directed by Krasinski (A Quiet Place), the film is a mixture of computer-animated creatures and live action -- and marks Krasinski's first reunion with The Office co-star Steve Carell (who, like most of the big names in this film, appears in voice form only).

If You Like These Shows and Movies, You May Like IF 

IF seems like Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, a very funny Cartoon Network show and the reason behind my own made up “friend” as a kid. However, besides the concept of imaginary friends being adopted by/matched to new kids, they’re not that similar in theme or tone.  

IF reminded me of a mix between the Eddie Murphy movie Imagine That (2009), and while definitely not as sad as this one, the 2007’s adaptation of Bridge to Terabithia.  

Imagine That, like IF, deals with a father-daughter relationship and the world of a child’s imagination, albeit, in a different way. Yet, they both suggest that adults need imagination just as much as children do.  

Where IF and Bridge to Terabithia have similarities, besides dealing with imagination again, is their focus on loss, especially dealing with a loved one passing as a kid. Don’t worry though, IF is a feel-good movie.

Elements That Appeal to Kids and Adults

Light-hearted dramedies aimed at kids are a tough nut to crack, so, I was impressed by this film even if it isn’t the most stand-out movie. But, it does a decent job of appealing to both kids and adults.

IF has incredible talent, beautiful visuals, and enjoyable humor. I personally found the character of Cosmo, a noir-detective imaginary friend, very funny.

It’s not all laughs, though. After all, it is a dramedy.

Themes in IF

The imaginary friends in this story all stem from a need, such as being scared of the dark or even needing a glass of water, such as with the character of Ice (Bradley Cooper). However, they also are reflections of their creators, too.

Spoilers ahead.

When Bea tries to grow up too fast and pushes her Dad away, because she’s scared that she might lose him, her own imaginary friend, Cal (Ryan Reynolds - the only human appearing/NOT animated IF which is a big twist in the movie, though, very predictable), seems to want to have nothing to do with other IFs. He reflects her struggle. 

It’s not just the kids who need their IFs, though. The adults do, too. We all need a little wonderment in our lives, and we all need a little help. 


Should you watch IF?

While the movie is not the most unique story to ever exist, IF was a good film. If you’re looking for a mostly family-friendly film to show your kids (Ryan Reynolds, being Ryan Reynolds, does say some minor profanity), IF might just be for you.

IMAGE: Cailey Fleming and BLUE (voice of Steve Carell) star in Paramount Pictures’ "IF."

Maggie Orsinger graduated from John Paul the Great Catholic University in 2020 with a degree in Communications Media. She also holds an 2023 MFA from Pepperdine University for Screenwriting.

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