‘IF’ Is a Sweet, Well-Intentioned Debacle

John Krasinski's ode to that special father-daughter bond can't find its footing

“The Office” alum John Krasinski knows we’re starved for original stories.

He may also sense the need for the family-friendly films Disney used to make. His newest project, “IF,” checks both boxes with a black Sharpie.

The harsh reality? Creative kiddie film magic is easier said than done. Krasinski recruits a Murderers’ Row of voice talent and adds the visual chops he flashed with 2018’s “A Quiet Place.”

The result? A tale even shaggier than its big, purple character.

IF | Final Trailer (2024 Movie) - Ryan Reynolds, John Krasinski, Steve Carell

The prologue introduces us to a girl bonding with her dying mother.

The story flashes forward a few years, and the now-12-year-old Bea (Cailey Fleming) is back in the hospital, but this time it’s her father wearing the hospital gown.

And you thought killing off Bambi’s mother was bleak?

Bea’s dad (Krasinski, trying too hard – just like his movie) assures her he’ll be fine. She’s not convinced, and it’s impossible not to feel her anxiety. Young Fleming is the film’s secret weapon.

While daddy awaits his undisclosed surgery she’s under the care of her kindly Grandma (Fiona Shaw). Bea ends up spending time with a handsome gent who lives in Grandma’s New York City apartment building.

That’s Ryan Reynolds as Cal, and he has the magical ability to see everyone’s Imaginary Friends, or IFs. Some are big, purple and fuzzy like Blue (fellow “Office” mate Steve Carell), while others are all manner of shapes and sizes.

Bea shares his unique gift.

Why? How? Huh?

Krasinski maxes out his creative license to build his fantasy realm, and we’ll forgive him as long as the storytelling magic kicks in.

It never does.

Soon, Bea is traveling all over New York City to either reunite IFs with their kiddie creators or find new best friends for each.

Neither storyline is compelling or fully realized. The flop sweat starts to puddle up, with the potential to flood the theater.

Krasinski uses every skill at his disposal to make “IF” fly, and nearly every time the results land with a thud. A musical number set to Tina Turner’s “Better Be Good to Me” (the film LOVES the soul legend’s ’80s comeback) is pure chaos.

IF | Meet the Cast (2024 Movie) - Ryan Reynolds, John Krasinski, Steve Carell

The laughter never bubbles over as it should, and the forced whimsy might be too much even for the younger set.

“IF” isn’t afraid to plumb dark emotions, respecting its audience in the process. Still, a thirdact twist is so manipulative it’s hard not to cry foul. Before then, the film sputters along with little spark save its impressive cast.

Sam Rockwell. George Clooney. Amy Schumer. Lou Gosset, Jr. Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Matt Damon.

They try their best, particularly Carell who would crush his role had it packed any real laughs or emotional resonance.


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“IF” is oddly confusing, stumbling from one subplot to the next with little rhyme or reason. At first, Bea pushes away the painting set of her youth, unwilling to embrace her imagination. The screenplay can’t effectively tease out that potential storyline.

Another squandered subplot? Grandma loved dancing as a little girl. When the story finds her reclaiming that talent it leaves us feeling cold.

The story hadn’t set us up for that cathartic reaction.

You want to cut “IF” some slack with all your heart. It’s a film about the precious father-daughter bond, a tale that extols the power of a child’s imagination even in cruel times.

Only a Scrooge-like critic would cry foul, right?

You still have to connect those themes to a coherent story. And the recent “Toy Story” films mined similar themes to far greater effect.

The only magic behind “IF” is how it stumbles at every step.

HiT or Miss: “IF” has its heart in the right place, but in almost every way it’s a crushing disappointment.


  1. Oh Christan! Manipulated? Nah. Charmed.

    I appreciate your point of view and you’re the pro: I was delighted at every turn. Tomato/tomahto

    1. Agreeing to disagree … I love it! I’m glad you enjoyed the film. I wish I did more … but I appreciate your embrace of the subjectivity of art. And thanks for stopping by the site!!

  2. This review was pretty dead on. I walked out of it feeling pretty confused. The message : “instead of dealing with childhood grief or trauma, just connect with your IF and wonder around New York City without any parental guidance.” The jokes didn’t land, the music score was over-excessive and this movie tried very hard to tell you how you should feel rather then allowing the audience a chance to feel for their own. The emotional sappy moments feel unearned. Also what happens to an IF when they finally connect with that person that they have lost…. Do they go to IF heaven? Do they become “real?” Does their personality change? The answer to all of these questions is no.

  3. If the movie is about the father-daughter bond, the daughter spends her time with Cal. How does that makes sense? Instead, it should be a fantasy between father and daughter looking for IFs that they both have to cope with stress in life.

    If the movie is a success, it doesn’t matter that we think it should be about something else.

    1. Have to disagree with you on this one. Hubby and I just saw it and were enchanted. Some chuckles and occasionally dabbing my eyes, wondering if my IF is still there. Sweet tribute to Lou Gossett Jr. at the very end. Lovely film, and everyone in the theater enjoyed it–kids, teens, young parents, and us.

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