‘IF’ Review: Embraces Your Inner Child

Written by Matt Rodriguez

I had an imaginary friend growing up, or I should say I had many imaginary friends. They were my coping mechanism for navigating my childhood. Any problems I had, I could always talk to them, and they would tell me the things I wanted to hear. There was a comfort in having them around; a secret bond that could never be broken because they were a part of me. But as I grew older and learned new, more mature ways of confronting my issues, the conversations with my imaginary friends became less frequent, less necessary, until they became just that; imaginary. As adults we’re told how we should act in order to be a functioning member of society and that adult problems can only be solved through adult methods. We move on from that childhood we had and are made to believe that creativity should be replaced by maturity in order to be considered normal. IF is a necessary reminder to embrace your inner child and that you’re never too old to let your imagination run free.

At the young age of 12, Bea (Cailey Fleming) has already had a tough life having lost her mother to cancer. Now her father (John Krasinski) finds himself in the same hospital preparing to undergo heart surgery while Bea stays with her grandmother. It’s there she starts to see numerous imaginary friends, or IFs as they call themselves, and meets Cal (Ryan Reynolds) who has been trying to find new children to partner them up with since their original kids have now grown old and forgotten about them. Bea decides to help Cal and the IFs while avoiding thinking about her dad being in the hospital. She may think she’s too old for her own imaginary friend, but by helping out other kids she’ll feel productive at least.

John Krasinski has said that IF is a film that is for fathers and their daughters and the bond between them. As neither of those, however, I found the film to be an emotional gut-punch on growing old and feeling like we have to replace creativity and imagination with maturity. IF is for all adults who feel overwhelmed with the world and its responsibilities. Bea is just a kid who has grown up way too quickly because she feels she has too after the loss of her mother, even though her dad is the first to make a joke no matter how serious the situation may be. He recognizes that she should be allowed to just be a kid. She’s hesitant to do so however because she fears what may happen. She already lost her mom and doesn’t want to lose her dad. Any 12-year-old going through the same is going to grow up fast.

IF is a drastically different movie than the trailers make it out to be. Despite the stacked cast, both live action and just in voice, IF is less a comedy and more a drama. The various IFs have humorous introductions and there are a handful of gags that land well, but the majority of the film goes straight for the heart. When Bea fails to match up a kid with any IF, she pivots and decides to find the original owners who first imagined them into existence. She tries to get them to remember their childhood so they can see their IFs again. I’ll admit that this got to me. So often we get swept up in our daily responsibilities of work and life that we forget to just take a moment and breathe and remember why we’re doing all these things in the first place. IF is that moment of respite among the chaos.

This is why the film resonated with me so much. It brought me back to my own childhood when I had my own imaginary friends. Whether you’re young or old, it’s never too late to reawaken your imagination. As writer, director, and star of the film, John Krasinski hammers home this message in a fairly straight-forward manner. IF doesn’t do anything particularly groundbreaking in that regards, but Krasinski knows how to hit the right beats at the right time to hit you right in the heart. There’s nothing wrong with being tried and true.

IF envelops you in a big, warm hug and makes all your worries go away for just a moment. It takes you back to your childhood. Bring the tissues too, because the tears will no doubt start flowing many times throughout. I honestly wasn’t expecting much going into the film, but ended up leaving with the surprise hit of 2024. Young or old, IF breathes new life into you.

  • IF


IF is a necessary reminder to embrace your inner child and that you’re never too old to let your imagination run free.

About the author

Matt Rodriguez

Owner and Chief Editor of Shakefire.