IF is a movie with lots of imagination and a cast with some nice moments, but ultimately, it seems misguided. It would have been more charming with a more balanced tone.

John Krasinski directs, writes, and costars in the movie. He’s the father of a 12-year-old girl named Bea (Cailey Fleming). Bea’s mother dies, leaving Krasinki’s character as a single father.

Things go from bad to worse as he has to have heart surgery and Bea is left in the care of her grandmother (Fiona Shaw).

Bea discovers a peculiar neighbor named Cal (Ryan Reynolds). Cal works with the IFs (Imaginary Friends) abandoned by their former childhood friends. His mission is to reconnect the IFs with their children.

Bea meets three of them who help her and Cal: Blue, a purple monster (Steve Carell); Blossom, a human/butterfly hybrid (Phoebe Waller-Bridge); and Lewis, an elderly teddy bear (Louis Gossett, Jr. in one of his final films).

Cal takes Bea and the IFs to a retirement community for other IFs, where characters range from a sunflower to ice to a banana and even an invisible IF. The voice work by the other IFs features some big names that I won’t reveal.

IF is a sweetly made movie, but sometimes it’s too saccharine. When the movie tries to go for laughs, they feel mostly cheap and muted. However, when it comes time to go into sappy territory, the movie is on a cinematic sugar rush.

From a visual and storytelling perspective, IF reminded me of a cross between Who Framed Roger Rabbit with a dash of Monsters Inc. The movie isn’t bad, but it explores its concept in a contrived and forced way.

Kids and families might appreciate it for what it is, but as for me, I wanted the movie to be much more assured.

It’s marginally entertaining, but it’s very much a missed opportunity.

Grade: B-

(Rated PG for thematic elements and mild language.)

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