Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS
Today’s Prayer Focus
MOVIE REVIEW

IF

also known as “Amigos imaginarios,” “Amigos Imaginários,” “Amis imaginaries,” “Blue & Compagnie,” “Blue et compagnie,” “Fantasievriendjes,” “Fantasi-venner,” See more »
MPA Rating: PG-Rating (MPA) for thematic elements and mild language.

Reviewed by: Shawna Ellis
CONTRIBUTOR

Moral Rating: Average
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Family Kids Teens Young-Adults Adults
Genre: Animation-with-Live-Action Fantasy Comedy Drama
Length: 1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release: 2024
USA Release: May 17, 2024 (wide release)
Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation, a subsidiary of ViacomCBSclick photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS

Imaginary friends

A young girl who goes through a difficult experience

She then begins to see everyone’s imaginary friends who have been left behind as their real-life friends have grown up

Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS
Featuring Ryan ReynoldsCal
John KrasinskiBea’s Dad / Marshmallow (voice)
Cailey FlemingBea
Steve CarellBlue (voice)
Phoebe Waller-BridgeBlossom (voice)
Louis Gossett Jr.Lewis (voice)
Emily BluntUnicorn (voice)
Matt DamonFlower (voice)
Maya RudolphAlligator (voice)
Jon StewartRobot (voice)
Sam RockwellGuardian Dog (voice)
Sebastian ManiscalcoMagician Mouse (voice)
Blake LivelyOctopuss (voice)
Christopher MeloniCosmo (voice)
Richard JenkinsArt Teacher (voice)
AwkwafinaBubble (voice)
Keegan-Michael KeySlime (voice)
Bradley CooperIce (voice)
Bobby MoynihanJeremy
Amy SchumerGummy Bear (voice)
George ClooneySpaceman (voice)
Matthew RhysGhost (voice)
Fiona ShawGrandmother
See all »
Director John Krasinski
Producer John Krasinski
Ryan Reynolds
See all »
Distributor
Distributor: Paramount Pictures Corporation. Trademark logo.
Paramount Pictures Corporation
, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS

Many have been anticipating the debut of IF, a film written and directed by John Krasinski. He demonstrated his skill with “A Quiet Place” and “A Quiet Place II,” leaving people to wonder how his moviemaking would translate to a PG-rated film that is clearly geared toward children. Indeed, Krasinski said that he wanted to make a movie that his own daughters could watch.

I applaud him for not only including strong positive themes of love, parenting and family in the films he has directed, but for also showing how great loss can affect those left behind. His effort to make an uplifting and beautiful film in a time that is otherwise filled with unwholesome content is commendable.

The very talented Cailey Fleming is “Bea,” an adolescent girl whose difficult past leads her to push the whimsy of childhood behind her and press forward to adulthood. Her loving Dad (John Krasinski) wishes that Bea could reclaim some of that childlike joy before she grows up. When she encounters fantastical creatures and a mysterious stranger (Ryan Reynolds), Bea is faced with difficult choices. Will she believe? Can she help these imaginary friends before they are forgotten forever?

IF is a “story about stories,” about memory and comfort, about moving forward while not forgetting the past. One of the characters that Bea encounters is Lewis, a teddy bear wonderfully brought to life by the late Louis Gossett Jr. in a quiet and powerful moment wise old Lewis tells Bea, “Nothing you love can ever be forgotten.”

Loss, love and memories combine as the pervasive theme of this film, which at times can seem a heavy load for the young target audience. Although children in my theater laughed aloud at the imaginative creatures and fantastical situations, at other times they seemed quiet and disinterested as the movie grew slow, brooding and melancholy. IF alternates between the silly and serious, the magical and the moody. At times it races with frenetic action, but then shifts jarringly to an unhurried stroll.

I felt as if I was watching two films… one about a father and his daughter as they navigate her growing up, and another about a girl trying to help magical creatures find their place. I think either premise makes a fine story, but both together seems a bit disjointed and unsure of its audience.

Many aspects of this film will appeal to children, but there are long interludes in which younger children may become restless. Adults though can enjoy both the whimsy and the thoughtful family drama. My daughter (age 18) really liked the film, perhaps because she is right on the cusp of her own adult life. I enjoyed it but felt that there were some lost opportunities that could have been further explored in the world of the imaginary friends (IFs).

Voice acting was fun and varied, with many stars joining Krasinski in the making of this film. Character design was imaginative and colorful. Human characters varied in their performances, but Cailey Fleming really carried this movie. It was nice to see Ryan Reynolds in a more family-friendly role.

Unfortunately, however, there are some cautions in this PG film. The main concern is language, which seems particularly out of place. Both Dad and Calvin (Reynolds) use mild curses in the presence of the adolescent girl, and there are frequent careless uses of “God” throughout the film. While the secular moviemakers may think this is “just a word,” God’s name should be spoken with respect. It was disheartening to hear this so often in a movie that would otherwise be appropriate for all ages. While IF was delightful and refreshing in many ways, the pervasive careless use of God’s name as an exclamation will trouble some parents. It certainly troubled me as I watched.

There is a joke about flatulence and some mild thematic elements involving illness and death. One other note of concern is that Bea (at age 12) is left to her own devices for many hours at a time, wandering around the city and following a strange man she just recently met. This might require some discussion about safety.

Of course, there is the whole concept of “imaginary friends” being portrayed as real entities, which may be confusing for impressionable children. Sometimes these IFs are present but unseen, or in rooms with sleeping children. None of the children in my viewing seemed frightened by this, but you will have to gauge your own child’s level of comfort with this idea.

In one scene, a character says, “You’re never truly alone.” This is meant as a reassurance that there is always someone out there who sees and cares about you, whether a real person or an imaginary being. In the case of the imaginary friends, the movie explains that they each have different roles and purposes in the lives of their children, such as “protection” or “comfort.” For many of us, those basic needs are still present even after we’ve grown up.

Thankfully, those who have trusted in Christ do not have to rely on an imaginary friend. We have the Holy Spirit inside of us, who the Bible describes as a Comforter, a Helper, a Guide, an Advocate and more. For true Christians, He is continually with us through all of our trials and joys.

Romans 15:13 describes the Holy Spirit as the one who helps us abound in hope. We don’t have to pretend, or seek comfort and help by our own imagination, or go through this world alone. In the world of IF, characters need hope, joy, peace, comfort, and more… supposedly provided by remembering their childhood imaginary friend. In the real world, we can have all that and more through Christ!

Those who have not trusted in Jesus really are alone, even if they do not realize it. There are no real life “IFs” to help in this broken world. But we don’t have to remain alone when God has made a way for us to be saved and brought into relationship with Him.

Content of concern

Violence: Some cartoon style slapstick for humor. Several scenes in a hospital or concerning illness with nothing graphic or overtly scary. A few scenes near the beginning have a slightly ominous undertone with mysterious creatures moving about in the shadows. Some of the imaginary friends could be a bit much for very sensitive kids, including a marshmallow that is on fire with a cartoonish melting eye (children laughed at the image). Another has intense quick movements, often suddenly grabbing characters by the shirt or shoulders and yelling in their faces.

Language: A couple uses each of “d*mn” and “h*ll.” There are about 20 (or more) irreverent uses of God, including “Oh my G*d” and “I swear to G*d.” This was shockingly pervasive.

Sex and nudity: This film is refreshingly devoid of sexual references and innuendo. In one scene, an artist tells a creature shaped like a cherry or apple to “cover up,” as though she had been posing nude. A man tells a banana creature to “put on some pants,” and the banana covers himself sheepishly.

Drugs and alcohol: None.

Other: One joke about passing gas. A young girl spends a great deal of time alone or in the company of a strange man in the city, sometimes without her family knowing where she is for hours. One of the IFs is a classic style ghost in a sheet.

IF is a refreshingly different movie and well-executed in many ways. But its attempt to entertain children while also tugging at the emotions of parents makes it a bit uneven in pacing and tone. While imaginative, I don’t think IF will become a “classic” children’s film such as “Toy Story” or “Finding Nemo”… both of which were able to mesh the silly with the serious in a way that IF does not quite capture.

John Krasinski seems to be a devoted father, and I appreciate his passion for making a film that’s an homage to childhood. He has brought us an entertaining family film which I found worth watching, but I worry that it has too many solemn moments for most young children, as well as an over-abundance of great ideas crammed into too little space.

  • Profane language: Moderately Heavy
  • Violence: Minor
  • Occult: Minor
  • Vulgar/Crude language: None
  • Nudity: None
  • Sex: None
  • Drugs/Alcohol: None
  • Wokeism: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Neutral
Neutral—My husband and I were disappointed by this movie. We really wanted to like it. Spoiler alerts follow… The movie title should have been “Bea’s Journey” rather than “IF.” It’s the story of a 12-year-old girl named Bea and how She deals with the earlier death of her mother and now the medical treatment that her father is receiving in the same hospital.

The story unfolds in her grandma’s apartment building in Brooklyn as well as the hospital. The acting of the main characters is wonderful and their relationships are very warm. I like John Krazinski which is why we chose to see the movie. It’s a good movie. We were expecting childhood awe and wonder and amazement, but instead the imaginary friends are in therapy and a retirement home. We wanted to smile during this movie, but the IFs were simply played for slapstick humor as Bea traverses the journey of healing from the understandable trauma in her life.

As the Christian Answers reviewer mentioned, there is the repeated use of the God’s name in vain and Bea travels alone through the city streets at night. I can’t recommend that children should see this movie. It is a warm and thoughtful movie and I think Krazinski accomplished his goal of creating a movie he could watch and discuss with his teen daughter.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Linda, age 65+ (USA)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.