John Krasinski’s Heartwarming, Creative Film Will Make You Miss Your Imaginary Friends


  • IF focuses on imaginary friends left behind by children in a whimsical, heartfelt manner.
  • The stellar cast delivers standout performances, with Cailey Fleming leading the way.
  • Despite some clunky moments, IF shines with warmth and optimism, appealing to those who embrace nostalgia and wonder.

Considering John Krasinski’s two most recent directorial efforts were A Quiet Place and its sequel, it’s a bit surprising how much of a complete 180 his new movie IF is. Replacing a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by deadly monsters with a fantastical, lighthearted landscape populated with kind creatures, the succinctly-titled movie plays as more of a character study exploring various themes than a straightforward adventure tale. How viewers will respond to it likely depends on the individual person, but there’s no doubt that Krasinski has a knack for worldbuilding.

IF, originally titled Imaginary Friends, is a comedic fantasy film written and directed by John Krasinski. A young girl who experiences a tragic moment early in her life discovers she can see the imaginary friends of others who leave them behind as they grow older.


  • IF’s story has a lot of heart and sentimentality baked into the plot
  • The fantastical elements and characters are creative
  • IF’s cast is excellent, delivering great performances

  • The story can get a bit clunky
  • There are one too many cameos that could distract

The title IF stands for “imaginary friend,” the little pal a kid might envision out of nothing. This is the second movie this year to tackle this concept, following Blumhouse’s Imaginary. Here, the IFs we encounter are those now adrift in life (if one can really say they’re alive) because their kids have grown up and forgotten them. The concept of leaving childhood behind has been the basis of countless movies, and I wouldn’t argue Krasinski has found something new to say on the topic. However, he still handles the idea with an impressive amount of heart and enthusiasm.


Where To Watch IF: Showtimes & Streaming Status

John Krasinski and Ryan Reynolds’ new movie has arrived. Here is where to watch IF in theaters with showtimes or at home on streaming or digital.

IF’s World Is Bursting With Magic & Imagination

IF centers on Bea (Cailey Fleming), a rather serious 12-year-old who insists she isn’t a child anymore, largely because her mother died of cancer when she was younger, and now her father (Krasinski) is facing his own medical problems. Though her dad enthusiastically encourages her to go out and find her own story, rather than spend all her time worrying about him, the message doesn’t really sink in until Bea runs into butterfly ballerina Blossom (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and lovable purple fuzzball Blue (Steve Carell), and she learns she can see imaginary friends.

This is a movie that welcomes embracing your childhood and encourages you to find wonder in the world, even when things are hard.

Along with cranky Cal (Ryan Reynolds), who acts as a sort of caretaker for the various IFs, Bea soon decides there’s only one thing to do with her newfound ability: Help them all find new homes. All the IFs need new kids so they don’t disappear. The specifics of that particular process are never really discussed. IF as a whole is more interested in the imaginary friends themselves and what they symbolize on a much broader level.

It would’ve been simple for Krasinski, who also wrote the movie, to create an action-packed adventure wherein Bea must race against time to save IFs from disappearing. Instead, Krasinski expands the IFs’ world through whimsical montages and poignant scenes rooted in nostalgia. For the former, there’s a delightful sequence where Bea transforms a retirement home housing various displaced IFs to be whatever she wants it to be, much to Cal’s chagrin, which allows Krasinski the opportunity to let his creativity fly.

IF’s Heart Elevates It, Even When The Plot Falters

The emotions tug on the heartstrings, even if the story isn’t seamless

By going with a more character-driven, emotional approach, IF finds ample opportunities to tug on our heartstrings. This is a movie that welcomes embracing your childhood and encourages you to find wonder in the world, even when things are hard. There are messages that will surely resonate with many people, though some might roll their eyes at the amount of sentimentality baked into the plot. I personally found myself charmed by the overall effect, though I did find some parts lacking.

Because IF leads with its heart, the actual plot doesn’t run quite as smoothly. It takes some time for Bea to meet the IFs and accept her new job, and once that happens, the movie settles into a predictable rhythm. At times, it almost feels like Krasinski got too caught up in all the ideas he had for this story. Despite the clunkier elements, though, IF pushes through with its warmth and optimistic tone, paving the way for some truly effective moments.

IF Features A Stellar Cast

There are endless cameos, too

Listing off every single notable star who makes an appearance (vocal or otherwise) would take up the rest of this review, so I will simply have to settle for saying Krasinski has assembled an impressive roster for this one. Best known for The Walking Dead, Fleming rises to the occasion of leading a major movie and gives a strong performance that cements her as a performer to watch. As Bea’s stoic nature starts to crack and give way to the youthful joy she so desperately needs, Fleming perfectly captures each beat of her arc.

IF pushes through with its warmth and optimistic tone, paving the way for some truly effective moments.

Reynolds’ Cal is another character who allows the Deadpool actor to indulge in his trademark sarcasm and quips, but he has a few twists up his sleeve that lead to greater depth. Fiona Shaw plays Bea’s grandmother, giving an earnest performance that proves essential to the movie. Among the IF voice cast, Carell is an adorable delight as the often-sneezing, very enthusiastic Blue, and Waller-Bridge perfectly imbues Blossom with tenderness. Special credit should go to the late Louis Gossett Jr., who voices Lewis and is the heart of the story. Stay until after the credits for a special tribute.

The amount of cameos within IF (George Clooney, Emily Blunt, and Matt Damon only scratch the surface) run the risk of becoming distracting, but only if someone is truly dedicated to identifying each and every voice. The electic character designs provide something else to focus on, playing with the idea of what a child might dream up. The overly sentimental elements of IF might be too much for some, but Krasinski has brought so much heart and wonder that I think there’ll be plenty for people to love, as long as they’re willing to open up their imaginations.

IF releases in theaters on Friday, May 17. It is rated PG for thematic elements and mild language.

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