Mixed or average reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 32
  2. Negative: 3 out of 32
  1. A sharply observed tragicomedy that draws laughter as genuinely as it coaxes tears, the nicely paced film tempers its themes of loss and sorrow with a cynically witty edge and is graced by a perfectly pitched Sigourney Weaver performance.
  2. 75
    The characters deserve a better movie, but they get a pretty good one.
  3. Reveals essential truthfulness about families.
  4. Reviewed by: William Underhill
    Harris leavens the familiar suburban angst with dark humor, rich characterizations and a terrific cast.
  5. Everyone is touched by sadness or hobbled by self-deception, and everyone is interesting, even moving, to watch until the drama slowly suffocates beneath the weight of its revelations.
  6. The result is almost like a film we have seen before but don't mind seeing again. The dialogue is generally fresh, the relationships ring true.
  7. 67
    Weaver and Hirsch's flawless performances elevate the film above and beyond the ranks of "Ordinary People" pastiches, and in the end it stands on its own merits.
  8. Good in many ways, full of talent and intelligence, and marks the debut of a promising young American writer-director, Dan Harris.
  9. 63
    Has all the makings of another "Ice Storm" -- family tension, teen experimentation, friendly neighborhood wife-swapping and a death in the family -- but falls short in its execution.
  10. In this story of suburban teenage angst, the parents are weird and often cliché to the point of incomprehension, as if seen through the prism of ... a 25-year-old.
  11. The gift of Imaginary Heroes is getting to know these anything-but-ordinary people.
  12. 60
    It looks good. It seems to work. It occasionally coheres into a priceless moment. But in the end, the pieces don't all fit together as they should.
  13. 60
    For now, it might be best to acknowledge this as an impressive debut and wait for the grown-up stuff to come.
  14. It would have been nice if Harris, who casts a sardonic yet compassionate eye on the Travis family, had set his sights a little higher than the typical chronicle of a dysfunctional suburban family.
  15. Piles too many small disasters on top of the initial tragedy, including a drunken car accident, a drug bust and a cancer scare. It also swerves unsteadily into farce.
  16. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    The film sways awkwardly back and forth between prickly humor and pathos, rarely ringing true in either register.
  17. Reviewed by: Meredith Brody
    The stand-up performance is still that of the mom--Sigourney Weaver, making the most of the meatiest part she's had in years
  18. 50
    What the movie damagingly lacks is a personality of its own.
  19. 50
    If you think you've seen Imaginary Heroes before, you're right -- only it was called "The Ice Storm," or maybe "Ordinary People."
  20. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Weaver's randy, impatient, very funny performance is the main reason to see Imaginary Heroes.
  21. Rather than invoke sympathy, the technique creates annoyance with Harris's writing: Sure, these characters may be clichés, but haven't they suffered enough?
  22. 50
    The first-rate cast is lost at sea.
  23. Imaginary Heroes feels like an endless series of wakes, awkward cocktail conversations and teen house parties, which would be fine if Harris wrote less cartoony dialogue.
  24. Weaver was half-heartedly pushed as an underdog Oscar choice. If the film was worthy of her performance, Weaver may have had a shot.
  25. 50
    Despite Weaver's wise instincts for the thoughtful pause, we're stuck with yet another ass-kicking female actor struggling to shade in the contours of a wispy sketch.
  26. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    It has strong moments and fine, unsentimental performances, but it doesn't jell as a story.
  27. Reviewed by: Olly Richards
    Terrific performance alone can't mask the lack of originality.
  28. 40
    This schizophrenic mess zigzags all over the place, trying to figure out whether it's a dysfunctional-family drama, a slapstick comedy or an angst-ridden coming-of-age movie.
  29. There seem to be about a half-dozen spiraling subplots that go nowhere in particular. But it's oh so hiply done -- at least, that's the idea.
  30. 30
    Never manages to achieve the balance between authenticity and eccentricity.
  31. Nothing in Imaginary Heroes rings true, least of all a plot that lightly combines domestic abuse, adulterous pregnancy, teen bisexuality, job abandonment, and a possible case of Mysterious Movie Disease. These are not ordinary people. Or real ones.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 19 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 13
  2. Negative: 3 out of 13
  1. ChadS.
    Jul 3, 2006
    "Imaginary Heroes" is "Ordinary People" with a different brittle, unloving parent, but solid acting trumps originality in this case. In the Robert Redford film, you could imagine that Mary Tyler Moore's character was on valium; here, the subject of drug use is decidedly more blunt. Sigourney Weaver's episode with pot matches Patricia Clarkson's in "Pieces of April" for laughs. It's a comic highlight along with a priceless self-criticism about minorities and tokenism late in the film. And that's the film's saving grace. It's not a total bummer. "Imaginary Heroes" needs a reevaluation. Full Review »
  2. JoshL.
    Dec 29, 2005
    I'm amazed at the truly vicious detractors of this movie; I throughly enjoyed it, largely from the great direction, brilliant acting from Weaver, Hirsch, and Daniels, and the engaging story that really compelled me to keep watching. It made me laugh and think and I think a movie that accomplishes that as well as 'Imaginary Heroes' did deserves to be advocated. Full Review »
  3. TonyB.
    Dec 28, 2005
    This is an exceptionally well-acted film, but Emile Hirsch is in danger of being type cast. If you've seen some of his other work, you probably know what I mean. The plot about yet another dysfunctional upper middle class suburban family has more subplots than it can handle and so never really fully realizes any of them. Full Review »