The Reel Review

B

A girl mourning the death of her mother from cancer and concerned about her now hospitalized father discovers that she has the ability to see the long abandoned imaginary friends, IFs, of others. She makes it her mission to reunite them with their individual persons who had forgotten about them as they got older, in this animated fantasy starring Cailey Fleming, Ryan Reynolds and its writer/director, John Krasinski.

Cailey Fleming in IF

At its heart, IF is about recapturing the imagination of youth to help cope with the harsh realities of everyday life. Although Krasinski’s thin story lacks depth and other than the animation is way too sublime for small children, this more adult-themed fantasy world is filled with lots of cute IFs, and a stirring, heartfelt performance by Fleming (Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker) and Reynolds as her IF whisperer. The mid-section of the film, however, is often corny and contrived, borrowing from other, better films.

Ryan Reynolds and Cailey Fleming in IF

Despite his screenplay’s shortcomings, Krasinski manages to get a who’s who of celebrities to voice the IFs – among them, Steve Carell (Blue), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Blossom), the late Louis Gossett Jr. (Lewis), Krasinski’s wife Emily Blunt (Unicorn), Awkwafina (Bubble), George Clooney (Spaceman), Bradley Cooper (Ice), Matt Damon (Flower), Keegan-Michael Key (Slime), Jon Stewart (Robot), Amy Schumer (Gummy Bear) and Christopher Meloni (Cosmo). Krasinski does manage to stick the landing, culminating in an emotional, tear-filled finale as all the humans discover the identity of their respective IFs.

REEL FACTS

• Steve Carell, who voices the IF Blue, co-starred with John Krasinski in the eight-season long 2005 comedy series The Office.

Cailey Fleming and Danai Gurira in The Walking Dead

• In addition to playing Young Rey in two Star Wars films, Cailey Fleming had the distinction of playing lead Rick Grimes’ young daughter Judith in 53 episodes of AMC’s The Walking Dead.

• Brad Pitt is jokingly credited as the invisible, non-speaking IF, Keith. Pitt also played an invisible character in 2018’s Deadpool 2.

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