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Flights of fancy


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Two new family-friendly movies landing in theaters this weekend will delight kids and parents alike

The Blue Angels in a scene from the documentary Amazon Content Services LLC

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, May 17th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown.

Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Some new movies debut this weekend that might interest families. Here’s arts and culture editor Collin Garbarino.

AUDIO: [Flight sounds]

COLLIN GARBARINO: If you’re the kind of movie fan who enjoyed the excitement of Top Gun: Maverick a couple of years ago, then you might want to head to your nearest IMAX this weekend for the documentary The Blue Angels.

PILOT: I fell in love with Aviation at four years old. My dad took me to an airshow, and I got to watch the Blue Angels fly for the very first time.

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels have been thrilling audiences at airshows since 1946. But this new documentary gives viewers a much closer look at the iconic flight exhibition team than anyone could ever get on the ground. This movie marks the first time civilian camera crews have been allowed to film in the Blue Angels’ practice airspace.

PILOT: This year, we’re bringing five new people into this team.

In addition to the stunning aerial acrobatics, the documentary gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of the select few who are considered the best the Navy has to offer. Of the nearly 4,000 Navy pilots, only six make the cut to join the Blue Angels. The training is grueling, but the pace doesn’t slow down once they take their Boeing F-18 Super Hornets on the road. 

The film is rated G. And though some of the flight scenes might have you on the edge of your seat, these elite pilots handle their planes and their attitudes with the utmost professionalism. The Blue Angels is a celebration of the kind of excellence that made America great. If you can’t make it to an IMAX this weekend, The Blue Angels lands on Amazon’s Prime Video next weekend.

From left: Ryan Reynolds, Cailey Fleming, the character Blue, voiced by Steve Carell, and Blossom, voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, in a scene from IF

From left: Ryan Reynolds, Cailey Fleming, the character Blue, voiced by Steve Carell, and Blossom, voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, in a scene from IF Associated Press/Photo by Paramount Pictures

Our other family option in theaters this weekend is IF from John Krasinski, who most people remember as Jim from The Office.

Krasinski has two daughters, and in his filmmaking, the actor turned writer/director has leaned into his role as “girl dad.” His 2018 thriller A Quiet Place revolved around the father-daughter dynamic. IF explores the same bond, but the tone couldn’t be more different. IF is a family movie that combines live-action and animation to introduce us to a world populated with imaginary friends.

BEA: What are you anyway?


Bea, played by Cailey Fleming, is a 12-year-old girl who’s struggling to find joy in the midst of her father’s illness. While staying with her grandmother, she meets a reclusive neighbor named Calvin, played by the very funny Ryan Reynolds.

CALVIN: Hey. What are you doing? No, no, no… Don’t do this…

BLUE: [Trying to hold back a sneeze.]

CALVIN: Don’t do this, OK?

Calvin has a big secret. He’s been looking after IFs—imaginary friends—who’ve lost their kids. Most notably a purple monster named “Blue” and a four-foot-tall butterfly named “Blossom.” Calvin’s been trying to find them new kids, but he hasn’t had much success.


CALVIN: Well, looky looky.

BLUE: She is the perfect fit. I promise.

CALVIN: Did she even see you?

BLUE: She was about to.

Bea decides to help Calvin by launching a matchmaking service. But instead of helping the IFs, the IFs help Bea see that despite her father’s illness, she doesn’t need to grow up too fast.

IF feels like a family movie from a bygone era, and if not for the repeated use of God’s name outside of prayer, this film could have been rated G. The film’s humor and colorful characters will entertain kids. Parents will appreciate the skillful storytelling in this lean 104-minute comedy with a tinge of melancholy. IF moves from playfulness to poignancy and back again without missing a beat.

The colorful and zany imaginary friends are voiced by a host of Hollywood A-listers. Krasinski’s old co-star from The Office, Steve Carell, voices Blue. Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Louis Gossett Jr, Matt Damon and many others voice the other IFs. But despite the animated antics, this movie is about a dad’s desire to hold tight to his child, though we cleverly experience this desire from the kid’s perspective. Krasinski exhorts us to find joy even when life doesn’t go as planned. And he suggests that rekindling a sense of childlike innocence can be a beautiful thing. Also, the movie’s pretty funny.

CALVIN: Keith! What kind of kid creates an invisible IF!

I’m Collin Garbarino.

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