3.75 out of 5


  • Imaginary friends
  • Big names


  • Pacing
  • Too many twists and turns
  • Not as many fun parts

Paramount Pictures
John Krasinski
Comedy, Drama, Family
Theatrical Release Date (NA)
May 17, 2024
Film Length
1hr 44min
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Filed Under

IF (Imaginary Friends), starring Ryan Reynolds, is a family film that mixes live action with CG animated characters. While it has some humor, it’s mostly serious with sentimental moments. Its story is different compared to other family films and not the silly comedy the trailer makes it out to be, which may surprise audiences in ways they aren’t expecting.

You’ve Got a Friend in Me

IF (2024) - Screenshot

©2023 Paramount Pictures. All Right Reserved.

The story starts with a little girl named Bae, voiced by Cailey Fleming (Star Wars: Episode VII, The Walking Dead), who’s full of smiles and joy, in a small, loving family in New York City. After showing her childhood life, it jumps to the present and to a 12-year-old Bae, revisiting her grandmother’s apartment in New York while her dad is in the hospital with a “broken heart”. Since the film gravitates toward children, it’s purposely vague in regards to Bae’s mother’s passing and her dad’s health issue. In that vein, the medical terms may be over their heads, so it tends to keep things simple and straightforward.

Bae’s grandmother, played by Fiona Shaw (Harry Potter, 1998’s The Avengers), and other adult figures try to interact with Bae as a child, but Bae politely asks not to be treated as one as she’s grown up. It’s not until about twenty minutes into the film that the audience is finally introduced to nonhuman figures, known as IFs (imaginary friends). It’s surprising it takes this long to get to these characters since the film is based on them.

Bae is very caring, polite with great manners, and wants to help others around. When she meets Cal, played by Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, Free Guy), she sees the difficulty he’s having in finding new homes for the IFs. This is also when Bae meets two IFs: Blue, voiced by Steve Carell (The Office, The 40-Year-Old Virgin), and Blossom, voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Solo: A Star Wars Story, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny). The two IFs are constantly around Bae and Cal throughout the film. The film has more big names playing smaller roles, for example, John Krasinski (The Office, Jack Ryan) playing the father, Matt Damon (Good WIll Hunting, The Martian), George Clooney (The Ides of March, The Monuments Men), and more.

Intrigued by the situation, Bae offers her help to Cal. At first, he is apprehensive of the idea but has her meet Lewis, voiced by the late Louis Gossett Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman, Enemy Mine), at a “secret location” located underneath an abandoned fairground. Lewis is a wise IF that resembles Winnie the Pooh, and he guides Bae. Basically, imaginary friends, who once lived with the children who brought them to life, are left homeless once their children grow up and forget about them. Now, they need help finding new homes and children to be around. For those who remember the cartoon series Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, it’s a similar concept. However, IF is more emotional, more serious, and less comedic.

The movie has various twists and turns. At the same time, it’s going back and forth between Bae’s personal life of hospital visits and her helping the IFs. At times, it feels like the various plots don’t mesh well together. The overall pacing is still good, though. When it plays the emotional card, the film takes its time to build and introduce the IFs. 

Mixing It Up

IF (2024) - Screenshot

©2023 Paramount Pictures. All Right Reserved.

The visual effects and designs of the IFs are fun and colorful. There are some IFs that could use more screen time, like the burning marshmallow, but their interaction in the real world is fun since no one but Bae and Cal can see them. Blue sneezing really loud can make an impact!

The film’s soundtrack does a good job to add emotion to the film, but it doesn’t stand out. The only time it does is during a musical scene where Bae uses her imagination in the IFs’ “secret location.” It would be great to see more energetic scenes like this to help break some of the seriousness a little more.

The Final Friend

IF has a unique feel and an emotional story, but at times it goes in different directions more than it should. Moreover, considering its stellar cast, it should be a much more fun experience. If you put aside your expectations, you’ll experience something nice, but maybe that’s too much of an ‘if’ for some.

An early screening provided for this review.

IF - Final Trailer

About Seth Hay - Editor-in-chief / Webmaster

When Seth is not designing or developing, he spends time with his family and his occasional dose of anime, sports and video games.

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