Comfortable and Furious

If (2024)

“IF” – Imagine that.

I never had an imaginary friend (IF) as a kid. That’s probably because I watched enough scary movies when I was young that an imaginary friend was too big of a risk. Just think about how creepy Danny Torrence’s imaginary friend Tony was in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. *shudders* Many kids’ imaginary friends were dolls, toys, or stuffed animals, but do you remember that stuffed clown in Poltergeist? *shudders x 10*

IF isn’t the horror movie about imaginary friends ripped from the nightmares I had as a kid. IF is a sweet family movie about a twelve-year-old girl, Bea (Cailey Fleming), leaning on imaginary friends to…cope with her dad’s (John Krasinski) impending heart surgery while also still coping with the death of her mom from cancer. I mean, I never had that nightmare.

While Bea’s father is in the hospital waiting for surgery, Bea is staying at her grandmother’s (Fiona Shaw) apartment. While walking home one night, Bea spots a strange creature entering the building. She tries to follow it, but it evades her. The next night, she spots the creature again, this time walking down the road with a man. Bea follows them, observes the man helping a large purple creature exit a building through a window, then faints.

Turns out that man is Bea’s upstairs neighbor, Cal (Ryan Reynolds). Cal has been working to place abandoned imaginary friends with new children (their original children have forgotten them) but has failed so far. Bea decides to help Cal, so Cal takes Bea to an IF retirement community beneath Coney Island where she meets a plethora of imaginary friends ranging from an anthropomorphic flaming marshmallow to a giant cat wearing an octopus costume to an old teddy bear named Lewis. I’ll let you decide which part of that sounds the scariest.

Unfortunately, Bea has no more success than Cal in placing any of the abandoned Ifs. Flummoxed, Lewis suggests trying to reunite them with their original kids. This is where the movie makes it clear that this is about Bea coming to terms with her own life. Your enjoyment of the rest of the film will depend on how cynical you are.

If you’re a fan of my reviews, you know that I am just a wee bit cynical. Well, I enjoyed this movie. Quite a lot, in fact. I may have even shed a tear or two. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say something was a bit off with the surface plot surrounding the IFs. The problem is that the rules around the IFs’ existence contradict themselves. And the effort to potentially place IFs with new kids doesn’t make sense – the logic falls apart really easily. If every IF is unique to their original person, then how can they be attached to (and even be seen by) anyone else anyway?

I could go on, but like I said, I enjoyed this movie. So, I decided to interpret all of the IF stuff as Bea’s coping mechanism with her parents. A distraction to take her mind off of the possibility she could be an orphan soon. The parallels were not subtle and had the movie not gone out of its way to blatantly state that the IFs all weren’t just Bea’s imagination, I never would have remembered my cynical IF and let him write this review.

But as PG movies go, IF is one of the better ones. Written and directed by Krasinski, he does a really good job of tackling a real-life trauma that many kids experience and putting it into a way kids can relate to. He’s telling kids and adults it’s okay to feel lonely and it’s okay to confide in someone, even if that someone is a six-foot talking gummy bear. Or Ryan Reynolds. Like Krasinski’s pandemic era YouTube show SomeGoodNews, IF is another thoughtful project by Krasinski to help us all remember the positive things in life. Even if the positive things sometimes take the forms of some of our nightmares.

Rating: Ask for three dollars back and watch out for Keith.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *