John Krasinski’s IF Looks Eerily Similar to This Classic Cartoon

John Krasinski's new movie IF will be arriving in theaters later this year, but the film is raising a few eyebrows at how similar its premise is to the Cartoon Network's Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. Though the two are different in many ways, they have numerous similarities. But where do they differ, and how much influence has one had over the other?

For decades, we have seen some of Krasinski's best work through writing, directing, producing, and acting. He is a tour de force and seems able to come up with new and intriguing concepts from whole cloth. That being said, let's take a few minutes to delve into his latest idea and the murky space between updated concepts and truly original material.

IF (Imaginary Friends)

IF (Imaginary Friends) follows a young girl (Cailey Flemming) named Bea, who develops the ability to see people's imaginary friends. Bea learns that these IFs, as they like to be called, have been abandoned by their children and are now out in the world, unseen by everyone else. However, The Man Upstairs (Ryan Reynolds), Bea's neighbor, has the same abilities as her, and the two of them work together to try and help the IFs.

IF is a mixture of CGI and live-action, bringing to life a variety of different creatures for the main characters to interact with. The voice cast is stacked with a-list celebrities, including Steve Carell who is reuniting with Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and John Stewart. The characters are very different and depend on the child that created them. Unfortunately, they are all wayward creatures who have nowhere to go and are excited to find that Bea and The Man Upstairs can not only see them but may help them find new purposes with other children who also need imaginary friends. There are plenty of reasons IF can succeed, but one of the main reasons is that it is already treading on familiar ground.

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Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends

Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends ran for six seasons between 2004 and 2009 and was created by writer and animator Craig McCracken, with a reboot reportedly in the works. During its run, the show was nominated for numerous awards and won everything from Emmy awards to a TCA award for outstanding achievement in children's programming.

The show follows a young boy named Mac (voiced by Sean Marquette) whose mother believes he is too old to keep his imaginary friend, Bloo. But when he takes Bloo to Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, he learns that a new child will adopt his friend. Mac doesn't want to let his friend go and is able to talk the homeowners into allowing Bloo to stay and for Mac to visit and spend time with him.

Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends considers the world as a place where people are aware of imaginary friends but that it is a known fact that children outgrow them. The home itself is run by Madame Foster (voiced by Candi Milo), her own imaginary friend Mr. Herriman (voiced by Tom Kane), and Madame Foster's granddaughter Frankie (voiced by Grey DeLisle). It is a typical children's show in that the characters get into all types of hijinks and learn lessons throughout the series. The show is known for its wacky style and overtly strange-looking characters that capture the idea that every child has a rich imagination that can create such fantastical and different creatures.

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How Do IF and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends Compare?

IF certainly feels like Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends if The Man Upstairs is Madame Foster as she attempts to create the home. It has a live-action prequel feel that takes its cues from CGI-laden films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers. It is a film with sweet undertones, musical numbers, and an ending that will most likely find itself bumping straight up against the show that inspired it.

The fact that Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends was in an already-established universe shows that people love a good prequel. For IF to succeed on its own, it must ensure it understands how it is essentially an origin story. Where do these creatures come from? Have they always existed? Do they need to be believed in to continue existing? Why would children need them if they can simply imagine their own? These are all questions that the movie could discuss and incorporate into the plot to give it a new and original feel.

John Krasinski is an actor who quickly became a great director and more than capable writer. We've seen his work on the A Quiet Place horror films, comedies like Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and dramas like Promised Land. He is aware of the draw that fun and furry creatures have for children (see Monsters Inc.) and how prominent film actors are willing to lend their voices to characters when they don't need to spend time being on-screen.

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Krasinski is an entertainer with business acumen. Imaginary friends are not a new concept, but it is a fine line to walk when your idea is so close to an existing property. IF may be a great film, but Krasinski has an obligation to see to it that it remains as original as possible. IF is set to hit theaters later this year on May 17, 2024. The Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends series can be bought on Prime Video.

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