Ryan Reynolds’ New Comedy Gets Torn To Shreds On Rotten Tomatoes

By Charlene Badasie | Published

Ryan Reynolds If

The review embargo on Ryan Reynolds’ new live-action animated fantasy comedy, IF, has been lifted. Unfortunately, the response to the movie, written and directed by John Krasinski, has not been positive. At the time of writing, it holds a dismal 51 percent critics rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes based on 101 reviews.

Rotten Tomatoes

The rating will be a disappointment for Krasinski, whose last project, A Quiet Place: Part II, still holds a 91 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating nearly three years after its release. Ryan Reynolds will find the critical response equally jarring as his last starring role movie, The Adam Project, which still holds a 68 percent rating from 216 reviews alongside a 73 percent audience score from over 2500 viewers.

Critics Weren’t Impressed

Originally titled Imaginary Friends, IF tells the story of Bea (Cailey Fleming, a young girl with the power to see imaginary friends after going through a difficult time.

Bea finds a real friend in her neighbor Cal (Ryan Reynolds), who can also see IFs forgotten by the children they helped. Cal and Bea team up to reunite the IFs with their kids.

While the premise for Ryan Reynolds’ IF promises a heartwarming tale about companionship and love, critics seemed unmoved.

A review from Deadline questions whether children will even have the attention span to see the film to the end. “IF wasn’t enough to keep my attention, how will it keep the attention of a child for 104 minutes?” the review said. 

Still Making Money

The Wrap described Ryan Reynolds’ IF as “tonally discombobulated and nowhere near as enchanting as Michael Giacchino’s score seems to think it is.”

San Francisco Chronicle shared a similar distaste for the fantasy-comedy, calling it a “disordered wreck that confuses impulse for inspiration and dissipates any impossibility of impact by constantly switching focus.”

The Hollywood Reporter said the film “strains for deep emotion in its poignant depiction of children moving on from such invented creations, who, much like the plaything characters in Toy Story, are deeply saddened by their abandonment.”

Despite the lukewarm reception from critics, Ryan Reynolds’ IF is expected to make approximately $40 million domestically during its opening weekend (May 17).

IF’s Production

Paramount Pictures secured the rights to IF In October 2019. It was developed as a passion project by John Krasinski and Ryan Reynolds. By May 2021, Krasinski’s Sunday Night Productions and Reynolds’s Maximum Effort inked first-look deals with Paramount. Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Fiona Shaw joined the cast in October 2021.

In January 2022, Steve Carell, Alan Kim, Cailey Fleming, and Louis Gossett Jr. signed on. IF marks a reunion for Krasinski and Carell, who co-starred in the hit comedy series The Office from 2005 to 2013. Bobby Moynihan was added to the cast in August 2022. Brad Pitt also signed on to voice an invisible imaginary friend.

Principal photography on the Ryan Reynolds-led IF began in August 2022, with Janusz Kaminski as cinematographer. The movie wrapped in May 2023. Arslan Elver served as animation director, and Chris Lawrence as VFX supervisor, working closely with Krasinski throughout production. Framestore handled the visual effects and animation, while Michael Giacchino composed the score.

You Never Know

Despite the poor reviews, and lackluster Rotten Tomatoes score, Ryan Reynolds’ IF might still resonate with viewers as audience tastes often differ from the critical consensus. While critics may find fault with aspects like pacing or tonal consistency, audiences might appreciate the film for its story. Additionally, Reynolds has a dedicated fan base who may support the film regardless of reviews.