(director/writer: John Krasinski; cinematographer: Janusz Kaminski; editors: Christopher Rouse, Andy Canny; music: Michael Giacchino; cast:  Cailee Fleming (Bea), Ryan Reynolds (Cal), John Krasinski (dad/Marshmallow-voice), Fiona Shaw (Grandmother), Catharine Daddario (Mom), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Blossom), Louis Gossett Jr. (Lewis-voice), Alan Kim (Benjamin), Liza Colon-Zayas (Janet), Steve Carell (Blue-voice); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Allyson Seeger, Andrew Form, Ryan Reynolds; Paramount Pictures; 2024)

“Never funny, or endearing, or reaching any heights.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An earnest but convoluted blend of live action and animation in this family film by John Krasinski (“A Quiet Place”/”A Quiet Place II”). The filmmaker is noted for his work in the TV series The Office. “If” pays tribute to childhood innocence, memories, the imagination, and the relationship between a father and a daughter.

Despite the solid performance of the child star, Cailee Fleming, the film is never funny, or endearing, or reaching any heights.

The mother (Catharine Daddario) of 12-year-old Bea (Cailee Fleming) dies of cancer and several years later her father (John Krasinski) is in the hospital for some unmentioned kind of life-threatening heart surgery. While the saddened Bea waits for her dad’s return in the Brooklyn Heights brownstone apartment of her grandmother (Fiona Shaw), she makes friends with IFs–imaginary children who are the forgottens of the children who owned them, who are now grown-ups who moved away without taking them along.

Bea discovers the IFs in the upstairs apartment occupied by Cal (Ryan Reynolds), the cranky adult businessman caretaker of the IFs. After failing to find these lonely computer creations new friends, Cal tries locating their previous child owners with Bea’s help.

The notable IFs include the creepy looking Blossom (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), a part butterfly and part human, and the furry giant Blue (Steve Carell), which is actually purple and was owned previously by a color-blind child who misnamed it (the film’s big joke).

The highlight of the film is when Cal takes Bea to a Coney Island retirement home and the following celebs use their voices on the animated IFs to put on a Broadway-styled musical show: Louis Gossett Jr., Matt Damon, Emily Blunt (Krasinski’s wife), Sam Rockwell, Blake Lively, George Clooney, Amy Schumer, Jon Stewart, Bradley Cooper, Keegan-Michael Key, Awkwafina, Sebastian Maniscalco, and Maya Rudolph.

If cuteness and sentimentality alone could carry a kid pic, it might be easy to make such coming-of-age films.

The film turned me off with its silly and uninspiring narrative. But maybe less demanding kids would enjoy it.