Film about imaginary friends struggles to make an impact

THE latest offering from John Krasinski, IF, merges live-action with animation to deliver a journey through the eyes of Bea, a young girl dealing with personal turmoil, who discovers she can see everyone’s abandoned imaginary friends. Starring Cailey Fleming as Bea and Ryan Reynolds as her neighbour, Cal, the film promises a heartwarming adventure but lands somewhere between a heartfelt drama and a tepid comedy.

$!Imaginary friends come in all shapes and sizes.

A mixed bag

The story revolves around Bea who is grappling with life’s challenges and finds solace in her newfound ability to see “IFs” or imaginary friends left behind as their creators grow up. Teaming up with Cal, Bea goes on a mission to reconnect these forlorn characters with the children who once needed them.

While the premise holds promise, the execution wavers. The film’s pacing is uneven, and the narrative sometimes feels bogged down by its ambition to blend sentimentality with humour. However, the idea that happiness and friendships, real or imagined, should persist through adulthood shines through as the film’s central theme.

IF has an impressive ensemble cast, with notable performances from its lead actors. Fleming brings a genuine vulnerability to Bea, while Reynolds’ portrayal of Cal offers a blend of wit and charm that provides the film’s lighter moments.

The voice cast is a who’s who of Hollywood talent. Steve Carell lends his voice to Blue, a gentle purple creature, while Phoebe Waller-Bridge voices Blossom, a lively humanoid butterfly. The diversity of imaginary friends, from Emily Blunt’s Unicorn to Matt Damon’s Sunny the Flower, adds a layer of enchantment to the story.

Despite the star power, the characters often feel under-utilised. There are moments of brilliance, such as Blue’s heartfelt reunion and Blossom’s infectious enthusiasm, but they are fleeting. The film occasionally struggles to balance the screen time between its many characters, resulting in a somewhat disjointed viewing experience.

$!A sneak peak of Reynolds (left) in action under the direction of Krasinski.

Embrace the inner child

Visually, IF is a feast for the eyes. The smooth blend of live-action and animation creates a magical world that captures the audience’s imagination. The design of the imaginary friends is creative, each character brimming with personality.

The animation stands out, especially in scenes where Bea and Cal interact with the IFs. These sequences are not only visually stunning but also emotionally resonant, highlighting the bond between humans and their imaginary companions.

At its core, IF carries a moving message about the enduring nature of happiness and friendship. The film suggests that growing up does not necessitate the abandonment of joy or the connections forged in childhood. Whether they are real or imaginary is beside the point, what matters is the support and love they represent.

The movie’s message is its strongest suit. It encourages viewers to embrace their inner child, cherish friendships through thick and thin and remember that it is never too late to find joy. These themes are communicated effectively, even if the delivery sometimes falters.

A message for everyone

IF is a dramatic comedy that despite its flaws, offers a touching story with a valuable message. It is a movie that should be approached with tempered expectations, as it is not groundbreaking cinema, but it is decent and heartwarming. The movie succeeds in delivering tearjerker moments and reminds viewers that happiness and friendship transcend age and reality.

For those willing to overlook its shortcomings, IF provides a worthwhile viewing experience, especially for families. Its imaginative world and heartfelt themes make it a movie that resonates, urging everyone to hold onto the magic of childhood and the friends who stand by them, real or imaginary.

IF is currently screening in cinemas.

$!IF is showing in cinemas now.

DIRECTOR: John Krasinski

CAST: Ryan Reynolds, John Krasinski, Cailey Fleming, Steve Carell, Phoebe Waller-Bridge