Friday, May 31, 2024

‘IF’ a classic in same vein as many Pixar movies

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG
Runtime: 1 hour, 44 minutes

12-year-old Bea has been through a lot. She recently lost her mother, and her dad is in the hospital awaiting heart surgery. She is moving in with her grandmother until her dad gets out of the hospital. One night Bea notices someone who could be about her age heading upstairs. She’s looking for a friend and goes upstairs but is told there is no one there.

However, soon Bea realizes she and Cal (who lives upstairs) can see everyone’s forgotten IFs or Imaginary Friends. There are so many of them, once a child outgrows their Imaginary Friend, they need to be rematched with another kid. It’s up to Bea and Cal to see if they can connect kids, current and former, with their Imaginary Friends. This was a very sweet and sincere movie that makes you feel many emotions but is ultimately fun, too.

“IF” has a star-studded cast of Cailey Fleming, Ryan Reynolds, John Krasinski, Fiona Shaw, Steve Carell, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Louis Gossett Jr., Alan Kim, Bobby Moynihan, Awkwafina, Emily Blunt, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, Matt Damon, Bill Hader, Richard Jenkins, Keegan-Michael Key, Blake Lively, Sebastian Maniscalco and Brad Pitt.

Bea (Fleming) is moving in with her grandmother (Shaw) after losing her mother and her father (Krasinski) is in the hospital for heart surgery. Bea is feeling sad and alone.

One night, she notices someone that looks to be about her height, but they hurry upstairs before she gets a chance to see them. Bea meets Cal (Reynolds) who lives upstairs.

She spies on him breaking into a home one night. After addressing Cal about this Bea learns he’s there for Blue (Carell) a giant fuzzy – and purple – IF, or Imaginary Friend. For whatever reason, Cal, an adult, is able to see all the forgotten Imaginary Friends that children leave behind; Bea can also see them and meets Blossom (Waller-Bridge) who lives with Cal and Blue.

Cal explains that the right IF needs to matched up to the right child. Only children who need IFs can see them.

Cal takes Bea to an amusement park where they meet more IFs.

“They’re not scary, they’re worse – desperate,” says Cal.

At a retirement home for IFs, Bea meets Louis (Gossett Jr.), a bear, who wants her help with placement. He tells her the retirement community can be anything she wants; it just takes a little imagination. Bea decides to take on the task of matching IFs to the right children.

Cal and Bea interview IFs for Benjamin (Kim), a child patient, at the hospital where Bea’s dad is. However, Benjamin cannot see the IFs.

“Will you please put some pants on, you’re freaking everybody out,” Cal says to Banana (Hader). This was one of my favorite lines.

Bea helps Blue find his child (now an adult), but it doesn’t go well. On their second attempt, the result is different.

Bea learns some touching lessons throughout the movie.

Written and directed by John Krasinski, who was inspired by his own children as he watched them use their imaginations, “IF” hits all the points of being a near-perfect family movie that works on multiple levels to entertain, touch, inspire and open the imagination of both children and adults. It deals with some pretty tough subject matter, the loss of a parent at a young age, but then turns that into something magical through the IFs.

It’s heartfelt and gentle and reminded me of a simpler time when there wasn’t so much to focus on – and worry about. Performances all around are spectacular, especially from Fleming and Reynolds. In addition, the voice acting will undoubtably bring a smile to your face, regardless of age. This is one you can watch over and over and I recommend seeing it on the big screen. It’s definitely worth it.

Robot gives it two thumbs up.

Now playing only in theaters. <

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