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Fireflies in the Garden Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Stop making sense. Then keep on stopping. Read full review


Grae Drake Profile

Makes you feel like a bug on a windshield. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 2.0

    out of 100

    Generally unfavorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 40

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times Betsy Sharkey

    There's a strange sort of diffidence that seems to inhabit Dafoe and Roberts' performances, and the disconnect between the two Janes is simply insurmountable.

    Read Full Review

  • 40

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    Dennis Lee comes up empty. Kids, parents, siblings, an aunt and an estranged wife all bicker and yell, but the noise cancels itself out. The movie is one long argument, tiresome and repetitive, that produces more heat than light.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    The resentments acted out at the dining table by the rest of this miserable family - gathered for a graduation celebration that turns into a wake - are so oppressive that Eugene O'Neill might ask, ''Too much?''

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  • 50

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    The screenplay shows signs of being inspired by personal memories that still hurt and are still piling up in Michael's mind. Fair enough, but the film doesn't sort this out clearly, and we experience vignettes in search of a story arc.

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  • See all Fireflies in the Garden reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Uneven drama about unhappy family, including tragedy.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Fireflies in the Garden is a drama starring Julia Roberts and Ryan Reynolds about the relationship between a domineering father, the son who grows up to despise him, and the mother who keeps the family together until an unexpected tragedy throws the entire household into despair. The father rules the household through his anger and his often-cruel punishments, creating a portrait of a deeply unpleasant place to grow up. There are several intense arguments and a good bit of swearing (including "f--k" and "s--t"), as well as some scenes that seem to come close to child abuse. One off-screen sex scene includes overheard noises.

  • Families can talk about the relationship between the father and son. Why is the father so controlling? Why does he treat his son with such cruelty? What are the effects of growing up around violence and abuse?
  • What message do you think the filmmaker is communicating through Fireflies in the Garden? Are his methods effective?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Only the mother in this family shows much sign of caring for the people in the clan, and her efforts don't really engender much affection between the others. There's plenty of hostility and even more suppressed anger, and the few scenes that show tenderness and caring serve to soothe people after bitter arguments.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: The mother is selfless and caring, but even she has hidden secrets. Everyone else lets their anger control them.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Several very intense arguments, including one that escalates into violence when a tween boy is so enraged that he attacks his father. Some scenes feature a father who metes out punishments so harsh they border on cruel. Much of the movie's action is precipitated by a terrible car accident.

  • sex false2

    Sex: One scene features two former lovers who connect during an emotional party. The sounds of their coupling are heard from the next room.

  • language false4

    Language: Relatively frequent swearing includes "s--t," "a--hole," "hell," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation), and multiple uses of "f--k."

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: One character prefers expensive German cars, including a Mercedes Benz and a Porsche.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: One character smokes cigarettes in several scenes, and some people drink wine at social events.