IF – Film Review

Imaginary Friends. I cannot say that I had one as a child, or perhaps I did and I just forgot. But I can certainly picture what a young mind might come up with as they play at home, creating a fictional support mechanism to help them through a difficult time in their young lives.

If you’ve never thought of this, well creative genius John Krasinski has. Written, directed and produced by Krasinski is a new film, simply titled IF. It is the exploration of Imaginary Friends, how they come to be and what happens to them when they are forgotten.

The story follows a young girl named Bea, portrayed by Cailey Flemming, at the age of 12 is going through a tough time. Until one night, she sees a strange figure in her apartment building. Upon following this creature, she stumbles upon her upstairs neighbour Cal (Ryan Reynolds). As it turns out, the strange creature is actually Blossom (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge), an Imaginary Friend. Blossom and Cal introduce Bea to a giant fluffy purple creature named Blue (voiced by Steve Carell).

Bea discovers that once an Imaginary Friend is no longer remembered by their child, the child no longer sees them and eventually, the IF will cease to exist. Of course, this is a horrible outcome for the many IFs that exist, so Bea, Cal and Blossom devise a plan to set Blue, and the other IFs, up with new children so they can continue to exist.

On the surface, IF is clearly a kid’s film. It has wonderfully designed animated IFs that are funny, quirky, and fun personalities. However, IF is a very deep film and after watching it, I can see that Krasinski wrote it for an adult audience. This is not to say that the narrative would be lost on those of a younger age, just that it would be more appreciated by a more mature audience. I for one was moved throughout the film’s entirety and at times found myself surprisingly emotional, credit to Krasinski’s exceptional writing.

Ryan Reynolds is wonderful and his playful, yet somewhat exhausted character Cal, works extremely well with Cailey Flemming’s Bea. Whilst Bea has been through quite a bit of emotional trauma at such an early age and is unfortunately facing it again, she feels the need to be ‘grown up’. It was nice to see Flemming’s transformation back into a playful child. This transformation fits perfectly with Reynolds’ natural playful comedic persona.

Then of course we have all of the IFs in the film, from Glasses of Iced Water, a Superhero Pooch, a Sunflower and even a Wooden Mannequin conducting an Art Class. One thing is for sure though, Krasinski really dove deep into his rolodex of famous friends for this one because there are a lot of them! Steve Carell as Blue was the perfect choice, his portrayal of the character was adorable and funny with his own classic spin on comedy. Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Blossom is kind and sweet.

Then there are over 15 other IFs in the film, each with their own quirky, funny, and even wholesome personas. It was fun watching and trying to pick up which the voice belonged to which actor, like a voice acting bingo card. I’ll rattle off a few of them, but I won’t spoil who they are so you can have fun discovering them like I did. Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Jon Stewart, Maya Rudolph, Sam Rockwell, Awkwafina, Bradley Cooper, even John Krasinski himself! There are a few others in there too, but I don’t want to spoil all the fun.

John Krasinski has also brought on Oscar winning composer Michael Giacchino to conduct the score for the film and the match couldn’t be more perfect! The music expertly matches the wholesomeness and emotion of the film. Cinematographer Janusz Kamiński, normally working with powerful drama or action films, does an incredible job of framing this original tale. With mostly animated characters, it cannot be easy to film scenes where only half of the cast and scene is in front of the camera.

All in all, IF is a wonderfully written wholesome film that has a bit of everything for the young and the young at heart. It even has some emotional twists that had me welling up throughout, to the point where I was definitely not crying at the end. IF filled my heart with joy and I hope it will do the same for you.

IF is in cinemas now and is one that you have to see on the big screen before it’s too late.

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