IF Review: John Krasinski Creates a Flawed but Sweet Tale for the Whole Family

IF is heading to theaters on May 17th.

Four years after helming A Quiet Place Part II, John Krasinksi is back with his next feature film. IF is a family-friendly dramedy about a young girl named Bea (Cailey Fleming) who encounters a group of imaginary friends (aka IFs) that have been forgotten by their now grown-up companions. If you've seen the trailer for the film, you know Paramount Pictures has been boasting one of the greatest casts ever assembled, thanks to huge names playing the hoard of IFs. Written and directed by Krasinski, IF is full of charm and whimsy, and despite its flaws, has the potential to be the family movie of the summer. The colorful, wacky IFs are sure to appeal to the young crowd while the movie's emotional beats will likely pull at every parent's heartstrings. 

In the film, Bea goes to stay with her grandmother (Fiona Shaw) while her father (Krasinski) awaits surgery. In her grandmother's building, she meets IFs named Blue (Steve Carell) and Blossom (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) alongside a fellow human named Cal (Ryan Reynolds). Bea and Cal are the only people who seem to be able to communicate with all of the IFs, and it's believed that Bea is the "chosen one" who can help them from being fully forgotten. Together, they form a plan to try to pair all of the IFs with new kids, but the task proves to be more difficult than anticipated. 

The world built by Krasinski mostly works, especially when it comes to the creative looks and personalities of the various IFs. The highlight of the film is when Bea visits the IFs' retirement home and gets the opportunity to use her imagination to spruce it up. The burst of fun and artistry in that scene will make you wish you could leap right into the screen. However, the plot gets messy at times, and the characters end up treading a lot of the same water throughout the film.

While we always love to watch Reynolds do his thing, the Deadpool & Wolverine star's presence in the film is notably awkward. Considering he's the only adult who can see the IFs, it's clear from the beginning that he has a special role to play in the story. However, while you're waiting for his truth to be revealed, he feels a bit out of place. You can't help but wonder how this grown man is getting away with taking a child he just met around New York City. Bea's grandmother never meets Cal, so you have to assume she's just letting the 12-year-old roam the streets of the Big Apple alone. While this detail might irk some people, it's also easy to excuse when you remember it's a movie about a giant fluffy monster looking for a friend.

When it comes to the actual IFs, Carrell as Blue is the clear standout. Overall, the film is more sweet than funny, but most of your laughs will come from Blue. Of course, Carell is no stranger to voice acting, and it's clear he put a lot of love into the character and we're willing to bet there's going to be a lot of stuffed Blues on Christmas lists this year. In fact, it's hard to leave this film without thinking of the merchandising possibilities, which can be rare for a non-IP project, but it's hard to say if that's a negative or a positive. On the one hand, movies shouldn't be made to sell toys, and on the other hand, I need a Blue ASAP. 

As for the other IFs, you can expect a good amount from Waller-Bridge's Blossom, but many of the film's big names mostly have cameo-level appearances. Each famous actor has a great moment ranging from Emily Blunt's Unicorn to Geroge Clooney's Spaceman, but some celebrities have more to do than others. If you managed to miss all the name drops in the trailer, you will want to stick around for the end credits as a reminder. Krasinski truly did gather an impressive line-up of A-listers, and their presence does improve the experience. 

IF sets up some rules that it occasionally breaks without explanation, so we recommend not thinking too hard about the "how" and "why" of it all, and just enjoy the ride. What the movie lacks in clarity, it makes up for in heart. The good news? Your kids probably won't notice the flaws and you'll be too busy shedding a tear to start poking holes in the plot. The film does a good job of reminding its audience that there's a kid in all of us, and that time can never truly take away your imagination. It's been a while since I looked around in a theater and saw multiple grown men shedding a tear. Krasinski knows how to appeal to parents, especially dads. 

While IF may not be a perfectly pieced-together movie, there's enough heart embedded in its core to make it a worthy trip to the cinema for families. The cast is delightful, the IFs are magical, and the warmth is undeniable.   

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

IF is heading to theaters on May 17th.