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'IF' Review: Has A Sweet Message But Forgets Its Target Audience


John Krasinski’s IF has a sweet message that gets lost amidst a convoluted, wishy-washy storyline.

IF has kicked off the summer bill at the box office, promising light, whimsical fun for families. A change of pace for Krasinski, who is known for his heavier and completely terrifying series, A Quiet Place. As his debut into the family genre, IF is well-intentioned, having charm and the right overarching theme that could’ve made it competitive with live-action Disney movies and other kid-centric brands. However, with a clunky plot and complex storytelling that can’t find the right balance between child and grown-up, it misses the mark and isn’t as joyful or sentimental as it could be.


After moving in with her grandmother while her father waits in the hospital for heart surgery, 12-year-old Bea (played by Cailey Fleming) discovers that she can see all imaginary friends (cleverly acronymed as IFs). This leads to her and her lovable, oddball neighbour setting off on a mission to reunite the long-forgotten IFs with their children.


When thinking about the topic of imaginary friends, we haven’t gotten anything recently that really explores the innocence and magic of this type of childhood play. Yes, we did get Imaginary from Blumhouse, but IF’s appeal came from the fact that it seemed like it would be the one to finally convey the bright, boundless energy of a child’s imagination. But in its attempt to do this, it forgot one very important thing – the simplicity of being a kid.


Most of the story felt like it was sitting on a seesaw, teetering back and forth between wanting to provide easy, child-like fun, and giving something more profound for adults. And because it spends all its time trying to overly please both sides, IF results in something that goes over kids’ heads and is just a little too bland and frustrating for adult viewers.

Another element that didn’t add to IF was its plot, which was messy for a number of reasons: lack of character and key event depth, questionable purposes with specific scenes, and strange tempo and tonal shifts that didn’t harmonize. This in-cohesiveness makes the entire movie feel underwhelming and low stakes, and as if the focus was given to all the wrong things. Not enough time was spent connecting us to the characters, establishing intent, or building a structure that we could be really invested in. I was hoping for it to feel like I was being given a big, warm hug by the time the credits rolled, but because of these issues, that tenderness never came.


The one thing that deserves props is the effort from the star-studded cast to stay true to the bigger message. From Krasinski and Ryan Reynolds to Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Matt Damon, and Louis Gossett Jr. (who voiced Lewis in his final role before passing away in March), they all added youthful electricity and sincerity to their designated characters that one has to wonder if they all had an imaginary friend as children. Even if it’s hard to be invested in the overall story, they make it easy to root for each of the IFs and enjoy their eccentricities.

Ultimately, even with a star-studded cast, amusing animations, and fun characters, IF definitely leaves more to be desired. While it has heart and charm, it’s hard to ignore that it gets so wrapped up in itself that it forgets its primary target audience – kids.


Rating IF

IF is out now in cinemas


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