Family members in crisis gives `Heroes' its heft

Movie Review

April 09, 2005|By Roger Moore | Roger Moore,ORLANDO SENTINEL

Imaginary Heroes is a tale of two brothers.

One is an Olympics-ready swimming champ, a blond Adonis, a kid his father has built his life around. The younger brother is a confused, depressed loner, unsure about his sexuality, his place in the world, even his place in his family. That's because the older brother, the athlete with everything going for him, has killed himself.

Everybody in this family, the creation of writer-director Dan Harris, is in a different form of mourning. Tim (Emile Hirsch) is guilty and sick of the sympathetic looks, the people saying "Sorry, Tim," in the halls at school. Mom (Sigourney Weaver) copes through alcohol and pot, and by feeding her seething feud with a neighbor. And Dad (Jeff Daniels) is just lost.

Harris weaves the threads of some of the best family trauma-dramas of the past 20 years into this overly ambitious dirge. It's Ordinary People meets The Ice Storm, Terms of Endearment reset in Dawson's Creek.

Everybody wants them to get "back to normal." But there's too much baggage. The same holds true for the movie. Harris has so many people with "issues," and so many issues, that it's impossible to develop even one beyond simple superficialities.

Harris bit off too much here.

Still, failed ambition is still ambition. Imaginary Heroes may overreach, but it challenges us as it does. That's heroic in any filmmaker.

The Orlando Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Imaginary Heroes

Starring Sigourney Weaver, Jeff Daniels

Directed by Dan Harris

Released by Sony

Rated R (substance abuse, sexual content, some violence)

Time 112 minutes

SUN SCORE ** 1/2 (2 1/2 STARS)

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