John Krasinski (Jim from The Office) continues to broaden his portfolio as an actor, writer, and director. Here he’s in all three roles with a charming movie that is rated PG in an era when not even the evening news can make that claim.

It’s not ruining anything to reveal that IF is an acronym for Imaginary Friend. There are a number of other things I could spoil, but won’t.


This is a sweet coming-of-age story for those of us who may have forgotten what it felt like. Krasinski plays the father of “Bea,” (played by Cailey Fleming) his twelve-year-old daughter who insists on no longer being treated like a child. Her father is continually clowning, spewing one Dad joke after another, either verbally or through situational comedy. Bea rolls her eyes and begs him to stop. “Never,” he replies.


Bea is terrified of a repeat occurrence of previous childhood trauma. Therein lies the need for a coach to help her through her day-to-day life in Brooklyn Heights, an upscale area of New York along the East River with spectacular views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. So when Bea goes out at night to a local convenience store, you can holster your typical New-York-at-night reflexes.


Bea goes to stay with her grandmother (Fiona Shaw) for a while in a third-floor walk-up, down the hall from a man named Cal, who has an assortment of unusual friends. Cal is played by Ryan Reynolds in a decidedly non-Deadpool persona but with a bit of his trademark humor. Together they visit the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island and set out to find Bea a “job.”


You’ll recognize Steve Carell’s voice as one of the other major characters. Likewise with Louis Gossett Jr. Although the film is live-action, there are some nicely animated supporting roles. SNL alum, Bobby Moynihan has a nice small dramatic part. 


Krasinski, whose roles span from special agent Jack Ryan to the dad in 2018’s A Quiet Place, taps into the Jim Halpert side of his resume for this sweet film. It’s a feel-good movie that makes you cry. There was quite a bit of sniffling in the audience during our viewing. The story is appropriate for children, therapeutic for adults, and despite a slightly corny ending, satisfying for all.


If there’s a message that underpins the plot in IF, it’s that nothing that is loved is ever forgotten. Sometimes we just need to be reminded to remember. And sometimes when you look back from an adult perspective, things begin to make sense in a recontextualized new way.


IF (2024) runs one hour, 44 minutes and is rated PG.

For seventy stories about growing up in Illinois during the '60s and '70s. Click below for a link to Amazon.


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