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Farhad Dalal
Farhad Dalal
3 Star popcorn reviewss


The imagination of kids does run riot early on in their childhood even as they aren’t fully accustomed to the world that they find themselves in. But with the norms of the society taking full effect, the kids slowly evolving in their adulthood leave their imagination behind. And with it let go some of their Imaginary Friends too along the way. The summers are often associated with summer vacations, and as an adult, how I wish this were true for us too. Amidst the holiday period, there are often a dozen films that are out catering to the imagination of kids that often leave you with a bittersweet feeling of the bygone era that would probably go down as the stress-free era of our lives. Often, animation/live-animation films do impart a message along the way that stays with you long after the film has ended. And at times, they transport you back into your childhood with visuals that trigger a plethora of memories. One such film that I was looking forward to watching was the new English film IF aka Imaginary Friends that seemed to have a warm and friendly vibe to it. So then does IF manage to impress, let’s find out.

Story & Screenplay

IF follows the story of a grieving 12 year old girl who suddenly encounters everyone’s imaginary friends only to embark on an unforgetable journey to reconnect the forgotten IFs with their kids. The story here exudes of warmth and definitely has its heart in the right place while evoking a bittersweet sense of nostalgia on the forgotten memories of childhood. I must say though that the emotions here are heavily manipulated for the viewers to feel a certain way, while the writing does falter in the characterization and world building aspect of the drama. Yet, the intended emotions are pure so much so that they resonate with you towards the end of the film. I still do feel that the screenplay standing at a shade above 100 minutes ought to have been slightly more palatable with respect to its world building wherein I did get an impression of the writers wishing to skip to the good part that had the underlying emotions in play. 

The drama kicks off with the introduction of the young protagonist in her happier times with her mother and her father. The drama skips to the current timeline wherein a now grieving protagonist all of 12 years old awaits her fate with respect to her father who is undergoing a ‘heartbreak’ of sorts(symbolic of a surgery), this even as she has lost her mother along the way. And this is when she starts encountering mysterious figures which she later realises to be imaginary friends, who were abandoned after the kids concerned grew up. While this was an interesting premise on paper, I did wish that the writers had fleshed out the world building part of the drama a little more, so as to connect better with the protagonist and her Imaginary Friends. This may well have included flashbacks of the happier times that the Imaginary Friends had spent with kids, also the protagonist on her bond with her parents, honestly that needed a little more screentime. 

The proceedings are fairly engaging in the first hour even as the protagonist embarks on a journey to acquaint the Imaginary Friends with new kids, even as this journey acts as a distraction or rather, a form of escapism from her own reality. But the drama scores heavily with the character traits of the Imaginary Friends, some of whom are dealing with their own existential crisis or the feeling of being abandoned by kids who were once close to them. This emotion itself is so pure that it beautifully tugs the strings of your heart gently, even though the vibe of the drama is still pretty vibrant. A section involving the retraction of memories with pearls of advice from an aging IF just hit home with the emotions besides the writers letting their own imagination run riot. 

The drama slowly comes to terms with its intended set of emotions in the second hour, which honestly was the essence of the drama. It picks up pace right from the time all IFs are interviewed about their previous ‘happier’ times only to lead to a course correction of uniting the IFs with their original set of kids who are now grown up. This for me did evoke a beautiful sense of nostalgia, not necessarily featuring an imaginary friend, but more on the lines of the times spent in my childhood which were just so simple and pure. The emotions are manipulated alright but they do leave an impact primarily because they do have their heart in the right place. This does lead to a bittersweet yet warm final act that does hit you with a lot of emotions, something that will make you shed a tear or two. And all the loose ends are nicely tied up thereby summing up the screenplay which is decently well written.


Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues are conversational but oozing with warmth that does trigger the feel-good emotions in the drama. The music and BGM go well with the mood of the drama, and account for a decent impact. The cinematography is adequate but the VFX is pretty impressive with bold use of colours to create a significant visual impact. The editing is decent although a little choppy at the start that curtails the world building part of the script. Director John Krasinski does a decent job here, faltering in the world building and characterization of the drama to begin with but slowly finding his mojo along the way. There are some genuine emotions in store along the way, and the director does well in tapping into them quite well. 

Performances / Voiceovers

The performances and voiceovers are pretty good by the ensemble cast here. Alan Kim as Benjamin has a sweet presence in a good job done overall. Bobby Moynihan as Jeremy and Fiona Shaw as the grandmother have their moments to shine. John Krasinski as Bea’s dad has a pleasant personality onscreen in a job well done. He doubles up as the voice of marshmellow and does well there too. Louis Gossett Jr as Lewis has pearls of wisdom to impart and he was phenomenal with his voiceover. Phoebe Walter-Bridge as Blossom is good as well, and does leave a mark. Steve Carell as Blue imparts a sense of warm and vibrancy with his voiceover, in an incredible job done. Ryan Reynolds as Cal is decent although I wouldn’t entirely say that he was in his elements. A part of me felt that he was sleep-walking through the film especially at the beginning. Overall, he was fair, nothing more, nothing less. Cailey Fleming as Bea does bring in some bittersweet emotions to the table in a good job done. The writing doesn’t allow her character to completely bloom but her performance does enough to engage the viewers with her intended emotions.


Despite faltering with its world building and characterization, IF is a sweet little harmless film on the existential crisis of Imaginary Friends that hits the right note with its intended emotions along the way, thereby making it a decent watch. Available in a theatre near you(from Friday, 17th May’24). 

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