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Light on the silliness, If still delivers a heartwarming message.

John Krasinski wears multiple hats as the director, writer, and co-star of his latest film "If" from Paramount Pictures. After leaving years earlier, Bea (Cailey Fleming) and her nameless dad (Krasinski) return to the Big Apple so that Dad can have an operation. Bea stays with her grandmother (Fiona Shaw) and tries to match her dad's positive attitude. One day, while returning, she sees a mysterious animated figure who later reveals herself as Blossom (voicework by Phoebe Waller-Bridge).

Driven by curiosity, Bea crosses paths with the whimsical Cal (Ryan Reynolds), who enlightens her about a fascinating aspect of their world. He reveals they can now perceive the imaginary friends left behind as their real-life counterparts have matured, including his boss, Lewis (Louis Gosset Jr.). Lewis further explains that the only way to cease these sightings, known as 'Ifs,' is to find them new homes. With Cal's assistance, Bea embarks on this mission.

In his film, Krasinski begins with a montage of a young Bea enjoying life with her parents, reminiscent of the classic and heartwarming movie "Up." As the story progresses, we see teenage Bea, portrayed by Krasinski, as a resilient young lady dealing with life's challenges. She meets Benjamin (played by Alan Kim) early in the film, as they both find themselves in the same hospital as her dad.

"IF" is a film that feels somewhat mis marketed. On the one hand, it boasts an all-star cast including George Clooney, Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Awkwafina, and Brad Pitt, who provide voice work as imaginary friends. Director Krasinski could have taken the easy route and opted for a silly comedy, allowing the A-list stars to shine as the Ifs on a journey to find new friends. Surprisingly, he downplays that angle and focuses mainly on Blue (voiced by Steve Carell), a gigantic purple creature longing for a permanent home. While some colorful scenes of singing, dancing, and other whimsical elements transport the audience to a world of pure imagination, the real heart of "IF" is revealed when you realize the exact type of film that Krasinski has made.

More than just a family-friendly comedy, "IF" delves deep into the complexities, traumas, and desires of young Bea, her imaginary friends, and what they represent for all humans, and that's where the excellent story lies. As charming as Ryan Reynolds is, he is on autopilot here. I would have much preferred if he swapped roles with John Krasinski. That's not to say he doesn't bring his usual Reynolds charm to the film, particularly in his scenes with Cailey Fleming. Still, his performance feels like it's missing something.

Nevertheless, on the strength of our lead heroine performance and Krasinski's continued emerging talent as a filmmaker, I did enjoy "If" and recommended it.

Final Grade: B

"If" is in theaters now.


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