July 22, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Film Review: IF

FILM REVIEW
IF
Rated PG
104 Minutes
Released May 17th

Confession: I never grew up…so I was completely drawn in to the imaginary world of the movie IF. I know that not everyone will be this engaged with the movie and that’s OK. When I saw the previews, I thought, “I’m going to have a hard time believing that this big purple ball of fluff is a character (I even have a hard time with animation sometimes,) but by 10 minutes into the movie, I was absolutely pulled into the story. It hits many universal heartstrings in an unexpected way. The film proved to be strong with families its first weekend, one of the top openings ever for an original live-action PG film, and audience reaction was excellent, which will lead to good word-of-mouth advertising for the Summer.

This film is a showcase of legendary talent in its filmmakers, cast, and voice actors, and I like to believe that they signed on because they were touched by the story. In addition to director John Krasinski, the filmmakers include composer Michael Giacchino, whose score is mind-blowing in the way it pulls your heartstrings like a magician’s sleight of hand, cinematographer Janiusz Kaminski, whose lighting and camera work make this uncanny world surround your senses, and editors Christopher Rouse and Andy Canny, who did an extraordinary job bringing this story to life, along with production designer Jess Gonchor, who set just the right notes with sets that paint spectacularly emotional surroundings.

Every character in this story is important – there are no peripherals. Young teen Cailey Fleming is astonishing as “Bea,” and she carries the film. Fleming was born in Picayune, Mississippi, and started acting at age 8. She played “Young Rey” in Star Wars: Episode VII and “Judith Grimes in The Walking Dead. Fiona Shaw plays Bea’s Grandmother. She is a consummate actress from Cork, Ireland, who has been acting in theatre, film and TV since 1984. Recently Fleming and Shaw appeared together on a talk show, and you could see the rapport they have developed. Director Krasinski had not realized that they are both dancers as well as actors, and when they informed him, he included each in a dance scene – two of the best moments in the film. Ryan Reynolds and Krasinski have very similar personas as actors, so it would be unusual to see both in the same film. However, in this movie, there is a reason. Liza Colon-Zayas and Bobby Moynihan are pitch-perfect, and Alan Kim gives a touching performance.

Most audience members don’t realize the degree of difficulty of voice acting. It takes tremendous development of skills in acting and vocalizing. The voices of the imaginary characters in this movie are A-Listers: Awkwafina, Emily Blunt, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, Matt Damon, Bill Hader, Keegan Michael-Key, Blake Lively, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Brad Pitt and more. Lou Gossett Jr gives one of the final performances before his death in late March 2024, as the voice of “Lewis the Bear,” and he makes his character so real that it seemed that Gossett himself was on camera.

If is a modern-day fairy tale, and fairy tales never gloss over the painful chapters of life, but they do provide a path forward, of strength, humor and light. Here, loss is turned into powerfully beautiful memories, through imagination. So, if you don’t identify with a childhood spent daydreaming, you may still love this movie because it’s about your painful losses and moments of great happiness and connection. The story has just the right balance from beginning to end. To me the movie is perfect. Take the kids to see If but know that you may be entertained as well – you can even go by yourself, with an adult friend, or take a date!

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which has been the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people.  She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com

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