Movie Review – IF

IF is full of energetic charm, but like a child’s favourite fantasy, it is often incoherent and fickle too.

IF Review: 5 thumbs-up and 3 thumbs-down
Snappy Movie Review | IF

IF Synopsis

12-year-old Bea (Cailey Fleming) is forced to relive her worst nightmare when her father (John Krasinski) is hospitalised—her mother died of cancer years ago. Forced to temporarily live with her grandmother (Fiona Shaw), she encounters a strange creature one evening when out to buy a charger for her mother’s camcorder. The creature then brings Bea to a man named Cal (Ryan Reynolds), who lives just above Bea’s grandmother. Through Cal, Bea discovers the wonderful but also tragic world of IFs. Imaginary friends forgotten by the children who once loved and cherished them.

Snappy Review

IF thrives on a certain nostalgic, tested and proven formula.

The movie is utterly modern in presentation, with the animated, talking cuties and all that. But the story is the sort that has stolen millions of hearts worldwide since the 80s. Depressed kid discovers unusual friendship when he/she least expects it. The magical discovery then serves as transformative therapy and everything ends on a sunny note. And so on.

It’s a formula that is enduringly popular and as long as decently executed, assures a modest hit. The problem, though, director and writer John Krasinski possibly felt that such a safe narration was too unambitious for today’s tastes. And so he added a basket of additional themes that included everything from life sacrifices to forgotten ambitions, to urban decay and perhaps even childhood loneliness.

Most of these themes tie together, sort of, and dominate the middle segment of IF; created the premises for most of the charm and laughs too. However, what they accomplished came at the cost of the original story, i.e., Bea’s terror of losing her remaining parent. Correspondingly, when the story returns to her, one can’t help but feel a sense of stumbling storytelling. For me, there was also that immediate question of huh? Didn’t she already recover from this? The way she energetically went about helping the IFs?

This lack of a concrete footing likewise resulted in pacing issues throughout the movie. The most magical segment of IF was Bea’s first tour of the retirement home. Despite the sheer amount of visual wonder and humour happening during those moments, I found myself yearning for the tour to end and for the story to get back to Bea’s father, Benjamin the kid in the hospital, and the all-important question of why on earth was Bea able to see the IFs when she has also, obviously, forgotten about her imaginary friend.

To sum up, I didn’t dislike IF and there were moments that charmed me, such as the L-O-V-E segment. (I immediately hunted for Nat’s evergreen hit on Tidal the moment I left the cinema) Like most such movies, IF also ended with a dazzling-as-sunlight finale, one that encourages you to forget the narrative shortcomings.

But this is still a classic case of a story, a movie that could have been much more if only it were slightly lesser. It’s great as brief escapism, no doubts about that. Beyond that, it carries little emotional impact.


Watch the trailer here.

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