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  • Writer's pictureStephen Yanni

IF (2024) - The Power of Forgotten Friends

Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5/5 Stars)

Released 05-17-2024

Watched 05-19-2024

Reviewed 05-20-2024

Watched in the theater Using Cinemark Movie Club

"What if I told you imaginary friends are real? And when they're kids grow up, they're forgotten."

"IF" (2024) is a whimsical yet poignant fantasy comedy that breathes new life into the world of imaginary friends. Written, produced, and directed by John Krasinski, this live-action animated gem stars Cailey Fleming as Bea, a young girl who discovers she can see imaginary friends (IFs), alongside her neighbor Cal, played by Ryan Reynolds. The film also features an impressive ensemble cast, with voices from Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Louis Gossett Jr., and Steve Carell, among others.

The narrative follows 12-year-old Bea, who moves into her grandmother Margaret's (Fiona Shaw) apartment in New York while her father undergoes heart surgery. One night, Bea stumbles upon a strange creature that leads her to Cal, her quirky neighbor who works with forgotten imaginary friends. Initially skeptical, Bea soon joins Cal on his mission to find new children for these IFs, leading to a heartwarming and imaginative adventure.

The movie's backdrop, from the bustling streets of New York to the fantastical Memory Lane Retirement Home under a Coney Island swing, perfectly complements its magical theme. The characters are richly developed, particularly Bea, whose emotional journey from grief to hope is compelling. The scenes where Bea uses her imagination to redesign the IFs’ retirement home and her heartfelt moments with Lewis, an elderly teddy bear voiced by Louis Gossett Jr., are particularly touching.

The animation blends seamlessly with live action, bringing to life a vibrant array of imaginary friends. Steve Carell’s Blue, a large furry creature, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Blossom, a butterfly-like being, are delightful. Their interactions with Bea and Cal add layers of humor and warmth to the story. The film's message about the power of imagination and the importance of remembering one's inner child resonates deeply.

Brad Pitt’s role as Keith, while brief, is a nuanced and understated performance. "Deadpool 2" fans will appreciate the subtlety and humor he brings to the character, reminiscent of his cameo as the Vanisher in the superhero sequel. Keith's interactions are fleeting yet impactful, providing comic relief without overshadowing the main plot. Pitt's ability to convey depth with minimal screen time adds a layer of sophistication to the film, making his character memorable despite limited exposure. His performance is a delightful Easter egg for fans, enhancing the film's charm and appeal.

"IF" is not without its flaws. The pacing occasionally falters. The film also ventures into darker themes, such as parental death and illness, which may not be suitable for very young children despite its whimsical appearance. This tonal shift, while handled with care, could be jarring for some viewers.

In summary, "IF" is a captivating and heartfelt film that balances fantasy with real-world emotional struggles. Its imaginative storyline, endearing characters, and visual splendor make it a must-watch. While it might be too intense for younger children, older kids and adults will find much to appreciate in its blend of humor, heart, and magic.


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