IF Review

0
1043

Rating: 2/5

Synopsis:

My expectations for “IF’ weren’t high based on the trailers. But word of mouth surrounding the subject matter grew my interest. We follow a young girl named Bea, who recently lost her mother. She has been struggling since the tragedy, distancing herself from her father. But she begins to see whimsical creatures known as imaginary friends. She realizes they have been left behind from their real life friends who have grown up. Bea must help the IFs find new friends or reunite them with their grown up friends. Along the way she may rediscover her purpose. 

Positives:

The potential for a rich, emotional story was possible for “IF”. There is a surprising amount of depth to the story, including themes about loss, trauma, and maintaining a youthful sense of optimism. The film highlights some challenging aspects of life that people go through, especially in Bea’s case. We see a young girl trying to figure life out after an unforeseen set of circumstances. How director John Krasinski ties in Bea’s experiences with the IFs by the end of the film was surprising and heartfelt. I really enjoyed that the film explored these big ideas, making an experience that younger viewers and adults can connect with. 

The two performances that impressed me the most were from young Cailey Fleming and John Krasinski. Fleming holds her own in a role that demands lots of complex emotions. She displays the right amount of joy when she needs to but also conveys a sense of lingering sadness. Credit to her acting abilities and the range she showcases. Krasinski also brings a nice sense of warmth to the film. His role is limited but his presence is important. He perfectly captures the essence of a father who is still coping with grief while handling his own struggles. He also displays an unending sense of optimism in the midst of a storm. These two performances are the heartbeat of the film.

Negatives:

“IF’ had such potential to be a great surprise. The template for a strong story was there, but the film really struggles with its narrative structure. There is so much going on that by the conclusion, none of the ideas were properly explored. From coping with trauma, the role IFs play with people, how everyone is intertwined, etc…every idea that’s presented is surface level. What’s also frustrating is that each theme is concluded with a half baked attempt to tug at the heartstrings. Since none of the ideas are explored properly, there is this obligatory notion to feel emotional by the end. It isn’t earned nor did it feel genuine. I’m disappointed because the film presents all of these ideas so well. By the end, the story was overstuffed to a fault. Such a bummer because the potential was there.

I also didn’t connect much with the IFs. None of them were very memorable when compared to other characters in similar movies. It seems like “Monsters Inc”, “Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends”, and other famous kids movies had blueprints that were used in this story. Unfortunately the film feels confused with what it wants to say. I could see both kids and adults being confused at what they’re supposed to take away with the message. I didn’t think the moments of uniting the IFs with new children or their previous friends to be very fulfilling either. The way each interaction unfolds was underwhelming. It’s strange too because there were so many big name voices used for the IFs but most were indistinguishable. Perhaps using some newer actors to keep the budget under control would have been a good idea. 

Conclusion:

“IF” is a fascinating project. I see the ideas that were in place, wanting to craft a story that is more than it seems. But unfortunately the filmmakers couldn’t decide which ideas they wanted to focus on, creating a convoluted story full of half baked ideas. There are some impressive performances and deep ideas introduced, but none of them were fleshed out enough to be impactful. Adults and kids alike may be confused with this one. Regrettably, “IF” can’t use the inspiration from other films to create a story worth telling. If the ideas were presented with narrative structure that made sense the film would have been successful. This is a case of a missed opportunity. What a shame.