Movie Review: ‘IF’ | Moviefone – Daily Frontline

(L to R) Ryan Reynolds and Cailey Fleming star in Paramount Pictures’ ‘IF.’

Opening in theaters May 17 is ‘IF,’ directed by John Krasinski and starring Cailey Fleming, Ryan Reynolds, John Krasinski, Fiona Shaw, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Louis Gossett Jr., Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Awkwafina, and Steve Carell.

Related Article: ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ Trailer

Initial Thoughts

Cailey Fleming and Ryan Reynolds star in Paramount Pictures' 'IF.'

(L to R) Cailey Fleming and Ryan Reynolds star in Paramount Pictures’ ‘IF.’

After spending most of the past decade following the end of ‘The Office’ in “tough guy” mode, playing a soldier, a spy, and an alpha male patriarch (perhaps to distance himself from his nerdy image as Jim Halpert), John Krasinski pivots into family film mode with ‘IF,’ an original live-action feature that he wrote, directed, and co-stars in. But while Krasinski showed some filmmaking flair with the intense ‘A Quiet Place’ and its sequel, his heavy-handed attempt to make a would-be family classic is overwrought and underwritten, giving the usually charismatic Ryan Reynolds and spunky young star Cailey Fleming little to do but stare at some Pixar-esque CG creations.

Story and Direction

Director John Krasinski on the set of Paramount Pictures' 'IF.'

Director John Krasinski on the set of Paramount Pictures’ ‘IF.’

‘IF’ opens on Bea (Fleming), a young girl who loses her mother to cancer before the opening credits even finish rolling. But that’s not all: Bea’s dad (Krasinski) is suffering from a heart condition and requires surgery, forcing Bea to stay at her grandmother’s (Fiona Shaw) New York City apartment while her dad undergoes his procedure (his pre-op stay in the hospital is unbelievably long – whatever he does for a living, he must have great insurance).

Lonely but apparently not going to school, Bea spies some odd-looking characters around the apartment building that lead her to a flat upstairs. That’s where she meets Cal (Reynolds), a strangely out-of-time man who resides in the whimsical apartment with a whole horde of bizarre beings that only Bea and Cal can see. As Cal explains, these are imaginary friends, or IFs for short, who are looking for new children to bond with since their previous children grew up and forgot about them.

Cal takes Bea to Coney Island – apparently it’s perfectly okay for a 12-year-old girl to wander around the city as she sees fit – where he introduces her to a subterranean retirement home for a large contingent of IFs, such as a robot, a flaming marshmallow, a glass of water, a big purple furball that looks like it stumbled over from ‘Monsters University,’ and many more. Most of them are voiced by famous people like Steve Carell, Bradley Cooper, George Clooney, Emily Blunt, Awkwafina, Matt Damon, Jon Stewart, and Blake Lively, who all don’t get much more than a line or two (even the ones married to the director and/or male lead). The founder of the place, a teddy bear named Lewis (the late Louis Gossett Jr.), recruits Bea to help Cal find new children for the wayward IFs, which Bea apparently finds more worthy of her time than, say, staying by her dad’s side.

Ryan Reynolds (Cal), Louis Gossett Jr. (Lewis) and Cailey Fleming (Bea) star in Paramount Pictures' 'IF.'

(L to R) Ryan Reynolds (Cal), Louis Gossett Jr. (Lewis) and Cailey Fleming (Bea) star in Paramount Pictures’ ‘IF.’

‘IF’ wants very badly to be a sort of live-action Pixar movie. While the idea of hanging onto one’s power of imagination even as an adult is a worthy one, and we will give Krasinski a certain amount of respect for taking a big, original swing with his own material, he’s not good enough of a writer to make it work and can’t quite get a handle on it as a director either. The movie continually tries to pull shamelessly and relentlessly at one’s heartstrings, aided so obtrusively by Michael Giacchino’s pervasively syrupy score (a rare misfire from the otherwise great composer) that one wants to tell the music to shut up.

The biggest problem with ‘IF,’ beyond its overt mawkishness, is that Krasinski’s world-building is sloppy and undercooked. Does Bea’s grandmother wonder where she’s going all the time? Does her father? Why can some people suddenly see their IFs for no apparent reason years after having forgotten them? How can IFs apparently open doors and move objects? Sure, this is a fantasy film, and real-life logic doesn’t always apply; but there has to be some sort of internal logic, a set of rules for the world, and that doesn’t seem present here.

There are some funny lines sprinkled throughout the film, and young children may delight in some of the many IFs who populate the story (even if none of them are given anything more than a cursory character sketch), but ‘IF’ meanders along with little urgency and no real sense of what we’re supposed to feel, despite its strenuous attempts to make us feel something.

John Krasinski Cast Many BFFs in ‘IF’

(L to R) George Clooney (Spaceman), Amy Schumer (Gummy Bear), Emily Blunt (Unicorn), Steve Carell (Blue), Flower, Cailey Fleming (Bea), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Blossom), Richard Jenkins (Art Teacher) and Maya Rudolph (Ally) star in Paramount Pictures’ 'IF.'

(L to R) George Clooney (Spaceman), Amy Schumer (Gummy Bear), Emily Blunt (Unicorn), Steve Carell (Blue), Flower, Cailey Fleming (Bea), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Blossom), Richard Jenkins (Art Teacher) and Maya Rudolph (Ally) star in Paramount Pictures’ ‘IF.’

‘IF’ has a stacked voice cast, although as mentioned earlier, the IFs come flying through so frequently that few get a chance to make any kind of impression. Aside from the kindly, wise Lewis, the IFs who get the most screentime are Steve Carell’s Blue and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Blossom, a sort of 1920s dancer who turns out to be Bea’s grandmother’s one-time IF.

The main human character, Cailey Fleming’s Bea, starts off as earnest and intelligent, but begins over-emoting through the second half of the film; Fleming is still an engaging presence who can probably do better. Krasinski’s dad, a whimsical sort who implores his daughter not to grow up too fast, is too smug to earn much of our empathy, while the usually sparkling Reynolds is forced to play it somewhat morose and passive through large sections of the film. His effortless way with one-liners doesn’t get the workout that this film could use. ‘Deadpool and Wolverine’ can’t come soon enough.

Final Thoughts

Cailey Fleming (Bea) and Steve Carell (Blue) star in Paramount Pictures' 'IF.'

Cailey Fleming (Bea) and Steve Carell (Blue) star in Paramount Pictures’ ‘IF.’

There’s a 10-minute tour through the IF retirement home about half an hour into the movie, in which Lewis tells Bea that she can make whatever she wants happen just by thinking about it (we guess). It’s a potentially interesting idea ruined by overly frantic, busy visuals, ending in an extraneous dance number which has absolutely no bearing on the rest of the plot. It’s also indicative of the problem with the rest of ‘IF’: this is a shapeless movie that feels more like the director playing with all the tools at his disposal yet not firming up the story he wants to tell.

After the success of the ‘A Quiet Place’ films, we suppose it was inevitable that the director would get to indulge himself with a vanity project. And as noted earlier, certain younger audience members may be enraptured by everything going on in the film. But if John Krasinski wants to try his hand at a family movie again, he should concentrate more on a good, focused story and characters, and less on self-satisfied sentimentality.

‘IF’ receives 4 out of 10 stars.

“A story you have to believe to see.”

PG1 hr 44 minMay 17th, 2024

Showtimes & Tickets

A girl discovers she can see everyone’s imaginary friends and embarks on a magical adventure to reconnect forgotten IFs with their kids. Read the Plot

What is the plot of ‘IF’?

A young girl going through a very difficult time in her life suddenly gains the ability to see the imaginary friends (IFs) of other people who have left them behind. With the help of a neighbor, the little girl attempts to reunite all the IFs with the kids they once belonged to.

Who is in the cast of ‘IF’?

  • Cailey Fleming as Bea
  • Ryan Reynolds as Cal
  • John Krasinski as Bea’s Dad
  • Fiona Shaw as Bea’s Grandmother
  • Steve Carell as Blue (voice)
  • Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Blossom (voice)
  • Louis Gossett Jr. as Lewis (voice)
  • Emily Blunt as Unicorn (voice)
  • Matt Damon as Sunny (voice)
  • Sam Rockwell as Guardian Dog (voice)
  • Awkwafina as Bubble (voice)
  • Blake Lively as Octopuss (voice)
  • George Clooney as Spaceman (voice)
  • Bradley Cooper as Ice (voice)
  • Brad Pitt as Keith (voice)
Ryan Reynolds and Cailey Fleming star in Paramount Pictures' 'IF.'

(L to R) Ryan Reynolds and Cailey Fleming star in Paramount Pictures’ ‘IF.’

Other John Krasinski Directed Movies:

Buy Tickets: ‘IF’ Movie Showtimes

Buy John Krasinski Movies on Amazon

#Movie #Review #Moviefone

What’s your Reaction?
+1
0
+1
0
+1
0
+1
0