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Ryan Reynolds and Director John Krasinski on the set of Paramount Pictures' "IF."
Photo Credit: Jonny Cournoyer/Jonny Cournoyer
Ryan Reynolds and Director John Krasinski on the set of Paramount Pictures' "IF."

IF, the title of a fantasy film written and directed by John Krasinski, mixes the playfulness of children with the seriousness of adult life. Although it may leave some in doubt as to which audience, kids or adults, it aims for, it is a friendly, imaginative take on how to cope with the vicissitudes of life without losing joy to the aging process. By the way, IF means ”imaginary friends.”

Gifted young actress, Cailey Fleming, plays Bea, a pre-teen who has lost her mother to cancer and now visits her dad in hospital for heart issues (“broken heart” in the film’s terms). Easy to see where the film’s somber, adult life plays out here. Bea’s help comes from her discovery of imaginary friends losing connection with their human friends, who have grown up not to need them.

The animated IFs, cute enough with colorful images of flaming marshmallows, an upbeat unicorn, and even wise, cuddly bear Lewis (the late Louis Gossett Jr.), are lonely, so Bea takes the role of placing them with new humans, a matchmaking effort if you will. Blossom (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and purple monster Blue (Steve Carell) are particularly helpful with effective voices. Although the gig, not as easy as it sounds, helps frame the film’s story, IF is really about friendships like hers and Cal’s (Ryan Reynolds) as he helps her place the Ifs with humans.

While this fantasy is whimsical and sentimental with that loss and death hanging about, it never sinks; rather, it strongly supports the necessity of being youthful on the journey to old age. It may also resonate with tweens and teens navigating physical and emotional changes.

As for adults, who will get it where pre-teens may not have a clue, the idea that they need to retain their imaginative youth will pertain, IF they allow it.


Director: John Krasinski (A Quiet Place)

Screenplay: Krasinski

Cast: Cailey Fleming (Peppermint), Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)

Run Time: 1h 44m

Rating: PG

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts NPR’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics as well as podcasts Back Talk and Double Take (recently listed by Feedspot as two of the ten best NPR Movie Podcasts) out of WCBE 90.5 FM, Columbus, Ohio. Contact him at


John DeSando