IF Review

We review John Krasinski’s IF, an ambitious family film with a massive sentimental streak.

if review

PLOT: A young girl (Cailey Fleming) going through a difficult life experience discovers that she can see a whole world of IFs (imaginary friends) who’ve been forgotten by their childhood friends as they grew older. Now, with the help of their mysterious adult named Cal (Ryan Reynolds), she seeks to unite these IFs with new children. 

REVIEW: One cannot fault writer-director-star John Krasinski for a lack of ambition. He’s parlayed the success of his A Quiet Place franchise into this big-budget family film, which seems to aspire to be a live-action Pixar flick. However, in attempting to appeal to both children and adults, he’s made a movie targeting too vague an audience. IF is too childish for adults, but it is also likely too serious and dramatic to keep kids entertained.

As such, IF could be categorized as an interesting failure. Like Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland, which also seemed inspired by Pixar, you never doubt the talent of all involved, but at best, the film comes off as “cute,” and at worst, mawkish and manipulative.

It also suffers from one of the most obvious plot twists in some time, with the big third-act reveal impossible not to guess right off the bat thanks to how plainly telegraphed it is. 

The movie is led by young Cailey Fleming, who plays a 12-year-old named Bea, whose father (Krasinski) is in the hospital awaiting an important heart operation. She’s recently lost her mother to cancer and is terrified that her dad may not survive his operation. For his part, he utterly refuses to take anything seriously, constantly trying to make her laugh by breaking into a song-and-dance routine while in the hospital and making light of his operation.

She’s being watched by her grandmother (Fiona Shaw – delivering the movie’s most genuinely moving performance) when she realizes that the apartment just above her is occupied by unwanted IFs and their human friend, played by Reynolds. 

IF, ryan reynolds

To give Krasinski credit, the IFs are beautifully designed, and voiced by a who’s who of Hollywood stars, including Matt Damon, Sam Rockwell, Emily Blunt and many more. The main IFs are Steve Carell’s Blue, a purple, furry monster who misses his colour-blind kid (hence the name), Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Blossom, and the late Louis Gossett Jr as Lewis, an elderly teddy bear who runs a retirement home for IFs. 

If kids enjoy this movie at all, it will be for Carell’s hi jinx as Blue, but ironically, it’s these same jokes that will make the movie come off as too childlike for adults, who seem to be the audience ultimately being targeted. The film’s message seems to be that in an increasingly difficult time, it’s important to hang on to some sense of child-like wonder, and not get worn down by cynicism. In fact, it seems to have been born out of Krasinski’s own COVID project, his web series, “Some Good News”, which aimed to keep spirits up during the pandemic. Yet, this blend of sugary sweet sentimentality doesn’t always play well in a feature, with it lacking the necessary bite to make it really effective. As they always say, “Without the bitter, the sweet ain’t as sweet.”

Nevertheless, Krasinski makes a bold swing. The film has one big bravura sequence, where Reynolds’ cynical Cal finds himself wrapped up in a fantastical musical number set to Tina Turner’s ‘Better Be Good to Me’. This sequence alone demonstrates Krasinski’s skill behind the camera. Technically, the film is impeccable, with excellent CGI and gorgeous cinematography by Janusz Kamiński (although the score by Michael Giacchino is over the top as it tries to tug on the heartstrings). He also brings out a nice quality in Reynolds, who shows a bit of pathos as the film goes on, even if his role feels strangely minor. The movie is stolen by some of the supporting actors, such as Shaw, Bobby Moynihan (in a small but crucial part) and The Bear’s Liza Colón-Zayas as a sympathetic nurse.

In the end, IF is nowhere near as bad as some of its detractors will say it is (people are already calling it the worst movie of the year), but it’s not that great, either. It’s an interesting misfire from a director who clearly has some major chops and a huge career ahead of him.

IF, ryan reynolds

IF (Movie)



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About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.