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FILM REVIEW: IF (U) ESP RATING: 3/5



The heart is in the right place for this emotive family flick.


It may have a bit of a disjointed plot, but a stellar performance from young female lead Cailey Fleming helps pull it through its weaker moments, as it tries to give a live action – mixed with CGi – feel, akin to early Pixar movies.


A little bit of Monsters Inc, if you will.



Fleming stars as 12-year-old Bea, who moves into her grandma’s (Fiona Shaw) home while her father (John Krasinski, who also directs) waits for heart surgery in the same hospital her mother died of cancer years earlier.


But in the apartment block, something is rekindled from years earlier. On the top floor she bumps into Ryan Reynolds’ (Deadpool) neighbour Cal – in a distinct ‘change of pace’ for the actor – who soon realises that Bea can see the same ‘magical’ things as him. The ability to see ‘imaginary friends’ that have been abandoned by the kids they’ve helped.



One major player is cumbersome Sulley-alike monster, Blue (Despicable Me’s Steve Carell), looking for a new child to befriend. He joins a host of similarly ‘lost’ creatures including Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s (from British TV series Fleabag and the recent Indiana Jones movie) Blossom, a rubber hose-style humanoid butterfly.


Bea then joins forces with Cal to try and help ‘house’ these former imaginary friends with potential suitors, which sends them on an adventure of self-discovery.



But while the plotting is sometimes a bit derivative – which some of the younger demographic may find hard to follow – there’s a bittersweet emotional underbelly that you can’t help but levitate towards.


As aforementioned, this is predominantly helped by Fleming’s captivating performance that surprisingly eclipses the plethora of eclectic childhood ‘beings’, which still does include a noteworthy performance by the late Louis Gossett Jr as elderly teddy bear Lewis – who runs the Memory Lane Retirement Home where the imaginary friends reside.



Director Krasinski – who spectacularly honed his directorial skills with acclaimed horror A Quiet Place – deserves praise for diversifying into family territory, but it’s definitely not flawless, by any stretch of the imagination.


But in years to come the overriding factor is not IF, but WHEN young lead actress Fleming becomes a bona fide Hollywood star – because her performance alone adds oodles of charm to a passably pleasant yarn.

 

Rating: 3/5

 

Gavin Miller

 



Showcase Cinema De Lux Peterborough, Out Now

Cast: Cailey Fleming, Ryan Reynolds, Steve Carell, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Louis Gossett Jr, John Krasinski, Alan Kim & Fiona Shaw

Running Time: 1 Hr 44 Mins

Director: John Krasinski

 

Go to www.showcasecinemas.co.uk for all the latest film information & showtimes at Peterborough’s Showcase Cinema De Lux

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