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‘IF’ Stumbles Into Plot Holes ~ At The Movies With Kasey

Have you ever watched a movie that you thought would be great only to watch it gradually fall apart? Like, you’re rooting for it and it does not quite deliver? That was my experience with IF, the much-anticipated children’s film from John Krasinski.

In IF, twelve-year-old Bea (Cailey Fleming) returns to her grandmother’s (Fiona Shaw) apartment, where she spent a magical summer before her mother died of cancer. While her father (John Krasinski) stays at the hospital ahead of surgery, she meets a mysterious upstairs neighbor, Cal (Ryan Reynolds), and two imaginary friends (IFs), Blossom (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and Blue (Steve Carell). Cal is trying to match the IFs with new children after their original kids grew up, and Bea just might be able to help.

As I typed that synopsis, I realized how much the plot of IF vibes with Toy Story, but IF seeks to celebrate the inner child and draws on the vulnerability children feel through the grief of the imaginary friends they created for comfort, then outgrew. The themes of IF run deep and are treated with great care. It is clear that Krasinski created the film with his children in mind as the project demonstrates such love and respect for the imaginations and feelings of kids.

The film also has great style, with vintage-inspired interior designs, costumes, and music cues that create a vibrant, textured backdrop for Bea’s creativity that really counters the Beige Mom aesthetic and the sanitized decor of the hospital. As their relationship develops, Bea and Calvin’s outfits start to mirror each other, an important but not overplayed detail.

All that said, IF feels underdeveloped. All the beautiful details of the production and the love they depict do not quite compensate for the unresolved elements of the story. For example, Bea helps the IFs find closure after their kids grow up, but after these moving scenes, it is unclear what exactly happened. Is the IF healed? Will they move on? Do they still need new kids? Who knows? Also, when Cal’s ending is revealed, it opens up a lot of practical and psychological questions about earlier parts of the story that undermine the endeavor.

Cailey Fleming gives an emotional, charismatic performance as Bea and Fiona Shaw is charming as her grandmother. I wish we got more of John Krasinski himself because I do not know what to make of Ryan Reynolds as Cal. In early scenes especially, he chews the scenery with a blase attitude. It is hard to know if it’s his acting or the aforementioned issues I have with the character’s plot, but I found myself wondering if Ryan Reynolds was even the right actor for the part. Dare I say it, Emily Blunt would have been better. As Blue, a giant purple IF, Steve Carell is super cute though.

IF is whimsical and heartwarming and tries so hard to do big things with themes around childhood, grief, and imagination, but the story does not hold together well enough to make it the great movie it so clearly could have been.

IF was written and directed by John Krasinski. It runs 104 minutes and is rated PG.

Meanwhile on Netflix, Mother of the Bride pastes together a silly combination of wedding movie tropes that further proves that Brooke Shields is just having fun at this point in her career. There is no reason for her to make this movie other than getting paid to hang out on a beach in Thailand. It’s a terrible film.

She plays Lana, a brilliant geneticist and mother to Emma (Miranda Cosgrove), an influencer engaged to her short-term boyfriend, RJ (Sean Teale). After signing a six-figure deal to do travel content for her “lifestyle page”, Emma’s wedding is being sponsored by big names at a luxury resort in Phuket. When mother and daughter arrive for wedding week, Lana discovers that RJ is the son of Will (Benjamin Bratt), the college boyfriend who broke her heart. Her best friend Janice (Rachel Harris) is along to instigate trouble and Chad Michael Murray is there (as another scientist, Lucas) to hit on her.

The screenplay is so bad. The designers sound so fake but also like they’re cribbed from Bridesmaids. Every plot point is well-trodden ground. Then there are also nonsensical lines such as when one of Will’s friends comments that Lucas is “volunteering at the clinic with eyebrows more mischievous than a kitten.” Excuse me?
I am always glad to see Rachel Harris as a best friend character and she and Brooke Shields have good chemistry—more chemistry than Shields and Bratt do. I cannot believe I am saying this, but Chad Michael Murray is underused. Maybe the reason to watch this film is for the oddity of the millennial heartthrob cast as a brilliant scientist pursuing Brooke Shields.

Mother of the Bride was written by Robin Bernheim and directed by Mark Waters. It runs 88 minutes and is rated TV-PG.

Kasey Butcher

Kasey Butcher

She is proud to be a Ft. Wayne native, a graduate of Homestead HS, Ball State University & Miami University. She became involved with journalism editor-in-chief for her high school magazine. She authors the "At The Movies with Kasey Butcher" review. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer