IF parents guide

IF Parent Guide

Despite an often somber tone, this is a warm-hearted film that offers a whimsical and rewarding option for family audiences.

Overall A-

Theaters: A young girl begins to see abandoned imaginary friends and look for new buddies for them.

Release date May 17, 2024

Violence A-
Sexual Content A
Profanity B
Substance Use A

Why is IF rated PG? The MPAA rated IF PG for thematic elements and mild language

Run Time: 104 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Twelve-year-old Bea (Cailey Fleming) is going through some tough times. Her mother has passed away, so when her father needs heart surgery, she goes to stay with her grandmother (Fiona Shaw). Anxious about her dad’s health, Bea is fortunate to meet her grandmother’s mysterious neighbor, Cal (Ryan Reynolds). His friends, Blossom (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and the gigantic Blue (Steve Carrell) are the first of many Imaginary Friends (IF) Bea will meet in Cal’s company – and they will change her life.

Cal has a unique goal: introducing IFs to new children when the kids who imagined them into existence grow up and forget them. He brings Bea to an IF retirement home where they begin their matchmaking efforts. With a new focus for her energies and emotions, Bea starts to cheer up. However, the matchmaking task isn’t as straightforward as it appears, and much adventure and mayhem ensue.

In spite of the film’s magical topic and the light mood depicted in the movie’s trailers, parents should note that much of the story is somber and sad. There are times when the pace slows a little too much for a little too long. The script also misses many opportunities to flesh out characters or to give more of a backstory, which is unfortunate, but not necessarily a surprise in a G-rated movie aimed at kids (and their accompanying parents).

That said, the film is blessed with an abundance of talent and a positive focus that persists through the movie’s darker moments. I brought my granddaughters to the film (ages 5, 9, and 12) and each enjoyed it at their own level. Even the five-year-old understood what was happening and appreciated the story. The girls admired Bea’s courage and cheered her on, while also picking their favorite IF. They were dancing in their seats to the upbeat music and laughing at all the right places. During the really touching parts, I could see that each girl was engaged in the on-screen action. The ending of the movie is a real tear-jerker, and the nine-year old told me afterwards that she was “crying on the inside, but in a good way.”

IF teaches many lessons along the way, including the power of storytelling, family ties, imagination, and love. I recommend it as a fun night out for the whole family – not only is it an entertaining watch, but you can also enjoy debating which IF would be the most fun!

Directed by John Krasinski. Starring Ryan Reynolds, John Krasinski, Cailey Fleming. Running time: 104 minutes. Theatrical release May 17, 2024. Updated

Watch the trailer for IF

Rating & Content Info

Why is IF rated PG? IF is rated PG by the MPAA for thematic elements and mild language

Violence: A child is deeply concerned about a potentially fatal medical condition of her father’s: her mother died previously. A child wakes up when a man and fairy enter her room and argue with a giant being hiding in the closet. A toasted marshmallow creature catches fire and one of its eyes fall off. There are several chase scenes. A girl is chased by a creature. A child is warned that a creature might explode. Two sword-wielding knights fight a fire-breathing dragon.
Sexual Content: None noted.
Profanity: The script contains a couple of anatomical terms and three mild profanities. There are some terms of deity and occasional name-calling.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None noted.

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IF Parents' Guide

Have you ever had an imaginary friend? What traits did your IF look like?  If you could pick one of the imaginary friends in the film, which one would you choose? Why?