starring Sigourney Weaver, Emile Hirsch, Jeff Daniels, Michelle Williams
written and directed by Dan Harris
by Walter Chaw Another installment in the ongoing Ice Storm chronicles, screenwriter-turned-hyphenate Dan Harris's Imaginary Heroes also incorporates elements of stuff like A Home at the End of the World and Moonlight Mile. The picture shows its hand early and often, with a star swimmer (Kip Pardue) killing himself before the main titles have finished, thus leaving his already-dysfunctional family to pick up the suburban, Ordinary People pieces. Mom is Sigourney Weaver, sis is Michelle Williams, Pa is Jeff Daniels, and the star of the show is likeable Emile Hirsch; the early scenes where Hirsch goes back to school to a slo-mo parade of kids doing their best to be sympathetic (see: Donnie Darko) demonstrate a sort of comfortable indie familiarity with the material. Dad drinks too much and doesn't go to work anymore, Mom discovers the joys of joints and the humiliation of being arrested (a reaction extreme that doesn't ring true), sis falls in love with an emotionally shattered but affable young lad (Jay Paulson), and the "other" son decides to kiss his best friend (Suzanne Santo) one night whilst standing under a plastic snake that acts as an ersatz Freudian mistletoe. (To its credit, the picture resists the Judd Hirsch-ian (no relation) shrink, though given the situation, one does wonder why none of these people are in therapy.) So, if you're sick of this master plot and these stock characters, rest easy that you know all there is to know without needing to suffer through it. But if you miss Sigourney Weaver and wouldn't mind seeing her transfer over to the Joan Allen role in another white-collar blues bit, hell, Imaginary Heroes is just the ticket. Originally published: October 15, 2004.