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IF (Christian Movie Review)

About the Film 

Growing up is hard. In the age of social media and cell phones, this inevitable rite of passage is arguably more difficult than ever. Directed by John Krasinski, IF tells a tender story about rediscovering our inner child and finding strength and comfort in our cherished memories. It’s the type of live-action family film that seems increasingly rare these days. With impressive visuals, charming characters, and an emotionally rich story, IF is a delightful and surprisingly mature film that children and adults alike can enjoy.     

John Krasinski is best known for his comedic acting role in The Office, but he is quickly earning a reputation as one of the better storytellers in Hollywood. His 2018 horror flick, A Quiet Place, was excellent, and he demonstrates his capable storytelling talents once again. While IF may not appear to have much in common with his alien-invasion horror movie, they share a similar foundational theme: navigating life’s challenges as a family. IF is not just a film for families, but it is also a movie about families.     

The story is about Imaginary Friends (called IFs) whose children have grown up and no longer remember them. Thus, they recruit a young girl named Bea (played by relative newcomer Cailey Fleming, who is fantastic) to find them new kids. The visuals are impressive, seamlessly blending the digital figures into a live-action world. The IFs themselves are fun, endearing characters, ranging from classic teddy bears to amusingly inventive creations.  

Despite the bizarre cast of IFs, the film itself is not as high energy or wacky as might be expected. IF is not bursting with laugh-out-loud gags. Instead, it is the type of movie that will keep audiences quietly smiling, similar in tone and pacing to the delightful Paddington movies . In fact, IF is what you might expect from a hypothetical live-action Pixar movie. It’s a mature story that explores deeper themes beneath its playful exterior. While it is a film children can enjoy, it may resonate strongest with their parents.   

I have not yet mentioned Ryan Reynolds, the movie’s biggest star. Unfortunately, Reynolds is unexpectedly one of the weaker parts of the film. He’s not necessarily bad, and his child-like enthusiasm works well at times, but his brand of humor has always had a sharper bite to it, which occasionally gives the movie a rougher edge.   

Another unfortunate blemish in the movie is some unnecessary language (see section below). The inclusion of profanity in family films continues to baffle me. In an otherwise charming scene, what is the purpose of having an adult ask a child, “What the h— do you want?” Is it funny because he swore? If so, funny for what demographic? No, IF is not The Wolf of Wall Street by any means. But in a story about rediscovering the importance of childhood innocence, the adult language sprinkled throughout feels counterproductive.  

Overall, there is a lot to appreciate about IF. It is a testament to John Krasinski’s skilled direction that the film manages to offer a message against growing up too fast while also respecting the intelligence of its younger viewers to handle an emotionally mature story. Yes, there are some worldbuilding elements that don’t feel fully cooked and some needless language that adds a slightly bitter flavor to the otherwise sugary sweet tone. But at its core, IF is an enjoyable, beautiful story about growing up and cherishing the memories that enrich our lives.

On the Surface

For Consideration

Beneath The Surface

Engage The Film

Becoming Like a Child     

Bea lost her mother to cancer as a child. Years later, when her father (played by John Krasinski) ends up in the same hospital for a heart procedure, she is confronted with grief for her mother and fear of potentially saying goodbye to a parent once again. She faces challenges no child should have to experience, and she is forced to grow up quickly as a result.    

 “I’m not a kid anymore,” she declares several times. Life’s trials have made her innocent and childlike tendencies—such as having imaginary friends—feel silly and unimportant. Her father pushes back on these attitudes, as he doesn’t want her to lose the spirit of childhood that helps her perceive life’s simple joys and blessings in a way jaded adult eyes cannot.   

Children learn from watching adults, but Jesus was clear that adults can also learn from children: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Becoming like a child does not mean remaining immature (after all, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:2 that Christians should mature beyond spiritual milk to solid food). But not all childhood attitudes or memories should be left behind.   

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