A star rating of 3 out of 5.

John Krasinski carved out a reputation as an emotionally assured horror director with the first two A Quiet Place films, tense and ingenious creature features about a traumatised family.


Aimed at younger audiences, his follow-up is a more benevolent but baggier riff on themes of familial strife.

Loosely-plotted and derivative but occasionally playful and charming, IF explores loss and recovery through a story about cutesy creatures who just want to hug their human co-stars, not disembowel them.

Cailey Fleming plays Bea, a 12-year-old girl whose mother died of cancer and whose father (Krasinski) faces a heart operation.

As Bea moves in with her grandma (Fiona Shaw) in New York, the girl develops the ability to see fantastical 'IFs' (imaginary friends) in the vicinity.

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Dapper neighbour Cal (Ryan Reynolds) shares her newfound skill, and Bea joins him to help reunite this menagerie of sweet creatures with the childhood pals who grew up and forgot them.

As echoes of Pixar’s Up, Monsters Inc and Toy Story mount, Krasinski seems intent on making a live-action Pixar film, right down to composer Michael Giacchino’s score.

The faint influence of Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbour Totoro further registers Krasinski’s taste, though it’s hard to shake the sense that much of IF has been done before, and with more finesse.

Even if Krasinski shares Pixar’s emotional articulacy, IF lacks the animation studio’s precision-honed feel for plot and comedy.

The first half meanders, lacking momentum and stakes. Laughs are scarce, and any sense of focus slowly winds up diluted by the diffuse comic interactions between Bea, Cal and the IFs.

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When Bea enters the world of the IFs beneath Coney Island, some inventive fun is had as the environment mutates according to her imaginative whims.

The creatures are cutely quirky, albeit overly reminiscent of creations in films from Zootropolis to Hotel Transylvania. Lead IF Blue (voiced by Steve Carell) recalls Monsters Inc’s Sulley, not least when IF’s out-sized fur-ball is found hiding in a child’s wardrobe.

Reunited with the director a decade-plus after The Office US, Carell joins Phoebe Waller-Bridge and the late Louis Gossett Jr to headline a huge voice cast of A-listers, indicating the renown Krasinski is held in.

But the voice cameos from Bradley Cooper (as an ice cube), Emily Blunt, Awkwafina, Brad Pitt and others merely feel like indulgences, distractions that add little to the plot. Pity Bea’s father, whose stay in hospital keeps slipping out of view.

Of the in-person leads, Fiona Shaw brings class to Bea’s grandma, whose childhood becomes the touching focus of some late-film twists.

IF is released in UK cinemas on Friday 17th May 2024.


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