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Fireflies in the Garden (2011)



Average Rating: 4/10
Reviews Counted: 51
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 41

Despite boasting a stellar cast, Fireflies in the Garden is just tedious, dull and predictable melodrama. Instantly forgettable.


Average Rating: 4.2/10
Critic Reviews: 16
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 14

Despite boasting a stellar cast, Fireflies in the Garden is just tedious, dull and predictable melodrama. Instantly forgettable.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 45,065

My Rating

Movie Info

To an outsider, the Taylors are the very picture of the successful American family: Charles (Willem Dafoe) is a tenured professor on track to become university president, son Michael (Ryan Reynolds) is a prolific and well-known romance novelist, daughter Ryne (Shannon Lucio) is poised to enter a prestigious law school, and on the day we are introduced to them, matriarch Lisa (Julia Roberts) will graduate from college-decades after leaving to raise her children. But when a serious accident



Dennis Lee

Feb 7, 2012


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All Critics (51) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (10) | Rotten (41) | DVD (2)

This histrionic family drama must have looked good on paper to attract such a big-name cast, but on the screen it comes off as glib, rushed, and underdeveloped.

October 20, 2011 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The emotional effectiveness varies from moment to moment between not pushing too hard or simply not pulling hard enough.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A dreadful exercise in navel-gazing that resides in a particularly trite corner of Pat Conroy-ville.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source: New York Daily News
New York Daily News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A dispiriting rehash of dysfunctional family clichés that seems to last longer than Thanksgiving Day dinner.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The actors are all good and a few scenes -- an opening family argument, a crucial battle when Michael finally fights back -- are painfully moving.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The relationships are lived-in and complex, with the same hopelessness that we find in real life. People don't change.

October 13, 2011 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Uneven drama about unhappy family, including tragedy.

February 29, 2012 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Julia Roberts plays ultra-sensitive artiste Ryan Reynolds' noble mother-and that should basically tell you all you need to know about this misguided soapy bunch of bollocks which somehow made its way off the shelf into theatres.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

This locally shot weeper is unhappy in myriad ways, few of which manage to coalesce around its heart-stung core.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

This stale drama is finally getting a limited release and will prove just how limited it is to the poor saps who pay to see it.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source:

An unrelentingly grim drama about yet another dysfunctional family.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Just when you're hitting your tolerance breaking point for these people and their nonstop bellyaching and yelling and baffling hatred for one another, the equally baffling reconciliation kicks in. What just happened?

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source:

The constant shifting between past and present is handled so badly that it adds absolutely nothing to the proceedings.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source:

It just comes off a little false.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source:

Those who naturally gravitate to this syrupy genre shouldn't be disappointed, as Fireflies in the Garden is consistent with tender moments and agonized recollections.

October 13, 2011 Full Review Source:

Has all the personality and forward momentum of a cardboard box.

October 13, 2011 Full Review Source: RedEye

Audience Reviews for Fireflies in the Garden

Great cast. Willem Dafoe, and Ryan Reynolds, really pulled this one off well....This is what "Tree of Life' could have been, had it not decided to be "cool & artsy!" This film was much more enjoyable. Even though it dealt with issues that most people find very disturbing, I think that it was handled very well. Not a "feel good" movie by any means.....
September 2, 2012

Super Reviewer

Cast: Julia Roberts, Ryan Reynolds, Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hayden Panettiere, Ioan Gruffudd, Shannon Lucio, Cayden Boyd, George Newbern, Chase Ellison

Director: Dennis Lee

Summary: In the wake of an unexpected family tragedy, novelist Michael Taylor (Ryan Reynolds) is forced to confront his fractured relationship with his father (Willem Dafoe) while dealing with painful memories of his mother (Julia Roberts), a woman who moved mountains to protect him. Emily Watson, Hayden Panettiere, Ioan Gruffudd and Carrie-Anne Moss also star in this semiautobiographical tale of rage and redemption from writer-director Dennis Lee.

My Thoughts: "I loved this movie. The cast is amazing right down to the young children acting in it. Great performances by them all. The story goes back and forth from past to present and really does a great job at putting you in this emotional, dark, tragic story. Willem Dafoe was brilliant at playing the father. It has to be his best performance in a movie that I have seen him in. It's a beautifully made film. I am a big fan of Ryan Reynolds, he is a talented actor with the gift for being able to pull off any genre. Julia Roberts is another one of those actor's. She was great in this as was Carry Moss and Emily Watson. See it if you get the chance."
February 20, 2012

Super Reviewer

Better than I would expect from something starring Julia Roberts. Not high on my list to watch, but I am glad I did. Similar in tone to "The Squid and the whale", this follows a dysfunctional family and goes back and forth in time, mainly sticking with Michael, (Ryan Reynolds), who is now a romance novel author and slightly dour. When his parents are involved in a car crash and his mother, (Julia Roberts) dies and his father, (Willem Dafoe) is injured, he barely seems to show emotion. As the movie goes on and we see what his childhood was actually like at the hands of his father, we start to understand why. There is nothing overly shocking here, more mental abuse than anything, and it did seem like there could have been a little more to this movie, but on the whole it was good and very well cast. Willem Dafoe in particular, I found creepy here, though that could just be his face! I did not recognise Hayden Panettiere as the younger Jane, (his teenage aunt), but she was very good also. Also Emily Watson and Shannon Lucio. I did not really like Carrie Anne Moss as Kelly, but then I never do like her as an actress especially.
February 5, 2011

Super Reviewer

A dull and obvious family drama that suffers from some serious miscasting and presents lots of issues but never develops them properly.
November 5, 2009

Super Reviewer

    1. Jane Lawrence: Meat is murder.
    – Submitted by Frances H (13 months ago)
    1. Young Michael Taylor: Get away from her.
    2. Charles Taylor: Who are you, Mommy's little protector? [grabs the baseball bat from Michael's grasp]
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
    1. Michael Taylor: Look at my watch. When those numbers line up, it reminds me to tell my mom I love her.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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