IF is an absolutely adorable movie. It’s filled to the brim with imagination. There’s just an aura to it, that’s missing from a lot of movies these days. We don’t get enough kids movies, whether that’s because film executives don’t see the money in them, or people are just jaded and cynical. IF is not a movie for the jaded or cynical.

John Krasinski directs and writes it alongside a supporting role in the film. If you don’t know, the story for IF goes like this.

A young girl who goes through a difficult experience begins to see everyone’s imaginary friends who have been left behind as their real-life friends have grown up.

That’s the heart and soul of IF. You get a movie that doesn’t really have a true antagonist. Normally you get movies separated into categories, Person Vs. Person, Person Vs. Nature, Person Vs. Society, or Person Vs. Supernatural. This movie kind of boils down to Person Vs. Cynicism or Adulthood. IF isn’t trying to give you the message that you give up on your adulthood and become a man/woman-child. It’s trying to tell you to not give up on those things that made you happy as a child. I never had an imaginary friend, but we’re all trying to find those things that made us happy as kids. The imaginary friends in the movie could very easily be a substitute for parents, grandparents, friends, cartoons, toys, video games, anything that kept you safe or sane as a kid.

It’s a beautiful look into what we’re all missing these days, and that’s the chord that strikes the hardest in the plot.

The human characters of the film include Bea (Cailey Fleming), Bea’s Dad (John Krasinski), Cal (Ryan Reynolds), and Fiona Shaw (Bea’s Grandma). Then there’s the humongous cast of IFs in the film including Blue (Steve Carell), Blossom (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Lewis (Louis Gossett Jr.), and others played by Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Maya Rudolph, Jon Stewart, Sam Rockwell, Sebastian Maniscalco, Christopher Meloni, Richard Jenkins, Awkwafina, George Clooney, Keegan-Michael Key, Matthew Rhys, Bradley Cooper, Blake Lively, and Amy Schumer.

There are plenty of IFs in the movie, but they mostly focus on Blue and Blossom. They’re the two that Bea meets first when she sees Cal at the beginning of the film. Carrell could voice act in his sleep at this point, but he’s really emotive and fun with his voice and the creature for Blue fits with him perfectly. The others IFs in the movie have fun designs that range from cute to kind of crazy.

Bea’s journey in the film takes her to living with her grandma after her mom passes away and her dad needs to be in New York to get heart surgery. Bea then meets Blue, Blossom, and Cal and finds out about them trying to pair up IFs that have lost their kids because they’ve grown too old. That premise alone is enough to tug at your heartstrings, but it gets even deeper than that as the movie goes on.

There are some really fun set pieces in IF, especially one where Bea’s imagination goes wild changing up where the “retired” IFs live. Paintings come to life, landscapes shift, there’s a musical number with a song from Tina Turner, it’s the total package. However, there are a few scenes that drag the movie along a bit. There’s also a lack of explanation as to what is wrong with her dad exactly. It might just be written from the kid’s perspective, so explaining complex heart surgery might be too much, and the explanation of a “broken heart” is it.

Ryan Reynolds is slightly tempered back from his usual acting style here; instead letting the IFs do the heavy lifting and Bea providing the reaction to a lot of the comedy. For kids, this movie is going to be great. It’s got plenty of fun characters and lots of laughs, and it’ll teach them a valuable lesson about life. For adults, the humor might hit a little less, but the emotional weight of the story will hit a lot harder. The scenes just before the credits really hit me the hardest, I will admit that I shed some tears during it.

Those things that brought us joy as kids get forgotten as we grow older. We shed the things that “are just for kids” and that’s a shame in today’s society. IF brings those challenges up and tells you to stop being so cynical about things. It’s filled with joy and fun, and sometimes that’s all a movie needs.

IF releases in theaters on May 17th, 2024.

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