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Updated: 2 days ago

There are charming moments in John Krasinski's new film IF, but it's a long and winding road to get to the last thirty minutes that holds them.

Anyone that's seen the 2019 animated film "Wonder Park" might also ponder just how original Krasinski's film is to begin with, as that film also uncomfortably mixed death and loss into an animated feel-good movie.

Maybe "feel-good" has changed definition these days....

The film opens with Krasinski in the hospital prepping for some unnamed broken heart surgery as his 12 year old daughter Bea (Cailey Fleming) comes to visit. Krasinski plays the kind of Dad that always has a joke off his cuff and a song in his heart. Honestly, the opening scene is so sweet and awkward that it doesn't quite land.

Fleming (Preacher, The Rise of Skywalker) is excellent though, effortlessly carrying the story on her back, even as the tone around her swings uncomfortably out of control.

Bea goes to stay with her grandmother, charmingly played by Fiona Shaw (True Detective, Harry Potter), where she discovers a strange man named Cal (Ryan Reynolds) climbing into the windows of children in surrounding buildings (creepy) accompanied by a giant purple furry creature named Blue. Steve Carell voices Blue as the happiest, loudest animated creature on record. I love Carell, but he wears thin fast here.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge fairs much better as Blossom, a Betty Boop/Bee like creature who also resides with Cal on the top floor of her grandmother's building.

As the trailers all elude too, these are the imaginary friends or "IF's" that children have outgrown.

So begins an adventure (that often felt more like a penance) as Cal and Bea plan to reunite them with their previous owners, or assign them to a new child.

Meanwhile, Bea barely visits her Dad in the hospital, even though she lost her Mom unexpectedly years before.

Krasinski never quite finds the right way to navigate these two tones, instead focusing on introducing a ton of star-voiced IFs that serve more as inspiration for Happy Meal toys than as characters you care about.

But he has brought a lot of his star friends aboard to voice them.

Awkwafina has about 6 lines as a bubble thingy, Krasinski's wife Emily Blunt is a Unicorn, George Clooney is a spaceman, Bradley Cooper is an ice cube, Matt Damon is a flower.

One of the best voices on the planet, Bill Hader voices a banana. With all the voices that Hader does so well, that banana is just, a banana. Talk about unrealized potential. How about letting these actors riff!

Think about the actors and the characters in "Toy Story" from Hanks to Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head, they were all distinct characters that generated huge laughs.

This is no "Toy Story", hell it's not even "Cars".

After what seemed like an eternity, several final act events do create some strong moments. Krasinski has proven himself to be a superb director and story teller with the "A Quiet Place" films. There's an excellent moment with Bea, her Grandmother and Blossom that speaks to grandchildren realizing who their grandparents used to be. It's perfectly shot.

The final wrap up offers the first real laughs in the film.

IF only the laughs had started 90+ minutes earlier.

Before seeing this movie, I would have thought it was impossible to rob Ryan Reynolds of his on screen charm & humor. But somehow, Krasinski's leaves him hanging out to dry for 90% of the running time.

It's an accomplishment, just not one to be particularly proud of.

IF gets a C-.

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