First Posted: 9/16/2014
Kingston native Dan Harris was all of 25 years old when he made his writing and directing debut with “Imaginary Heroes” (2004, Sony, R, $15), an uneven but involving look at a suburban clan dealing with a suicide in the family.
While Sigourney Weaver’s face adorns the DVD cover, the movie really belongs to Emile Hirsch, who plays Tim, a high-school senior whose life goes into a tailspin after his older brother Matt (Kip Pardue) takes his own life.
In fact, the best scenes depict Tim muddling through school, popping Vicodin to anaesthetize the pain, and dabbling in a semi-erotic relationship with the boy (Ryan Donowho) next door.
All the members of Tim’s family cope with the loss of Matt differently. Tim’s sister (Michelle Williams) seems to be lost in a fog. His mom (Weaver) experiments with pot. And his dad (Jeff Daniels) takes a leave of absence from his job so he can sit all day on a park bench, mulling over past mistakes.
“Imaginary Heroes” might too closely resemble “Ordinary People” but, to Harris’ credit, he’s drawn terrific performances from his cast, and springs a third-act revelation that feels resoundingly right.
Harris was only 22 when he sent the “Imaginary Heroes” script to director Bryan Singer. Singer liked it so much he hired Harris to pen “X-Men 2” and “Superman Returns.” In between those two movies, Harris made his directorial debut with “Imaginary Heroes.”
Harris, who’s recently been announced as the scripter of Singer’s forthcoming “X-Men: Apocalypse,” has yet to helm a second movie. “Imaginary Heroes” isn’t perfect but it’s good enough to make you wish that this Kingston boy would get another crack at calling the shots.