The summer of 2023 has not even started at your local theater, but CinemaCon audiences got a glimpse at what’s in store for next summer. One movie in particular seems very mysterious: it’s called IF. It’s written and directed by John Krasinski and stars Ryan Reynolds, and is currently set for release May 24, 2024.
Krasinski may be best known for playing good guys like Jim Halpert or Jack Ryan on camera, but behind the camera, he’s stuck mostly to horror, helming the first two Quiet Place movies. Knowing that, knowing Ryan Reynolds, and seeing that primetime summer release date, you can’t be help but think, “WTF is IF?”
That question was answered, and then some, at CinemaCon this week, where Krasinski presented the first look at the film. He described IF as his attempt to make something as timeless as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The film is about a young girl (Cailey Fleming) who develops the ability to see all the imaginary friends in the world, most of which were created by children when they were young and then forgotten about. And so IF, which is shorthand for “imaginary friends,” is a live-action and CGI hybrid film about a world in which all manner of wild creatures roam about, and only this one girl can see them.
And for the creatures, Krasinksi used his considerable star power to put together just a wildly impressive voice cast. Ready? There’s Steve Carell, Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Vince Vaughn, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Sebastian Maniscalco, Richard Jenkins, Christopher Meloni, Awkwafina, and Jon Stewart.
Krasinski is still editing, and the effects were nowhere close to done, but the footage shown looked kind of like a live-action Monsters, Inc. The IFs range from bright blue and fluffy, to skinny and oddly shaped. One looked like a banana. Another looked like McGruff the Crime Dog. You can tell the designers really used their own imaginations to bring to life some new and inventive-looking characters. Those are juxtaposed not just by Fleming’s character, but Ryan Reynolds, who plays a character named the Man Upstairs, who is the “accomplice” to Fleming’s character.
Truly, the footage made IF look like it could be the sweetest movie ever made, or maybe the most upsetting movie ever made. Not only the visuals, which could go either way, but think about how sad it is that in this world, all of these imaginary friends were just abandoned. But, it seems, that’s kind of the point of the movie: that this one girl is able to help all of these creatures, and what that can do for the world. Plus, those movies Krasinski mentioned—E.T. and Willy Wonka—sure use sadness to their advantage too, right?
Surely, we’ll be hearing and seeing more from IF later this year as it nears completion and the marketing for next summer begins.
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