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The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Can I sue the Dr. for malpractice? Read full review

Other Critics provided by

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

  • 4.0

    out of 100

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

  • 60

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Ray Bennett

    The film is neither intelligent enough nor silly or grotesque enough to become a lasting favorite.

    Read Full Review

  • 67

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    As is so often the case since his "Monty Python" days, Gilliam is best at visual games and weakest at storytelling.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Though rambling and at times self-indulgent, its wit and pageantry, boosted by Heath Ledger's final performance, render it irresistible.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    This is an Imaginarium indeed. The best approach is to sit there and let it happen to you; see it in the moment and not with long-term memory, which seems to be what Parnassus does.

    Read Full Review

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 15+

Imaginative Heath Ledger fantasy is too dark for young kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a fantasy movie with elements that might look family friendly, it dives into some fairly mature and dark waters -- very much like the often brutal and terrifying Grimm fairy tales that inspire director Terry Gilliam. The imagery, while dazzling, is also frightening and even nightmarish at times (and the first 40 minutes of the movie are very disjointed, which may turn off some viewers), so it's not an age-appropriate pick for younger kids. Plus, the devil is one of the movie's major characters, and the "heroes" aren't exactly shining role models, either -- many of them keep secrets and deceive people, often for selfish reasons. And the 16-year-old heroine has sex and is seen smoking a cigarette the next morning (presumably after the act itself). Many viewers will be curious to see Heath Ledger's final performance and how Gilliam finished the film around his absence, but Ledger is ultimately just one member of an ensemble cast and not really the film's "star."

  • How do you think Gilliam's decision to "replace" Heath Ledger with three other actors worked out? Is the movie meant to be seen as a tribute to Ledger?
  • Is the movie more or less scary than films that have more outright violence? Do scenes have to be violent to be scary?
  • Why would someone be tempted to make a deal with the devil? Is Doctor Parnassus' "prize" for winning one of his deals a blessing or a curse?
  • Doctor Parnassus believes that the world goes on because people tell stories. Do you agree or disagree?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Although the characters aren't exactly virtuous, Doctor Parnassus does (mostly) learn from his mistakes. His bets with the devil are all done with the aim of saving his daughter, and when he finally lets her go to live her own life, he has -- in a sense -- freed himself. And in the end, he has continued to be a storyteller (a most important job, according to the movie).

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Certainly Tony (a liar and possibly a thief) isn't a role model, but it's possible that Doctor Parnassus has some good things to impart to audiences, even though he's a drinker and a gambler and is continually making deals with the devil). He believes that, above all, the world keeps going only because people tell stories about it, and he's part of that tradition. He overcomes some of his problems and learns to let his daughter live the life she wants.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Characters engage in frequent arguing and infrequent fistfights, with the occasional bloody nose. That said, the movie also has plenty of frightening, nightmarish imagery, such as characters whose mouths shrivel up and disappear and a building that crumbles into a dark abyss.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Tony caresses Valetina's face and moves in for a kiss but is interrupted. Later, one of the "mirror Tonys" has sex with Valentina (who's 16) in a boat. They kiss, and the scene then cuts to Tony buttoning his shirt and Valentina lying back with only her bra and underwear on (so sex is clearly implied). Valentina also appears nude in one scene, but her long hair covers all her private parts. Valentina wears a series of low-cut dresses and clothing. In another scene, a woman approaches a sleazy hotel with one of the "mirror Tonys," and she clearly has one thing in mind.

  • language false3

    Language: "S--t" is used more than once; also "ass," "tits," "son of a bitch," "friggin' hell," "hell," "goddamn it," and "Christ's sakes."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Doctor Parnassus frequently drinks and gets drunk, and viewers see him carrying a bottle. He passes out on stage once. On one occasion, Anton drinks from a bottle and gets drunk. Other, minor characters emerge drunk from pubs; some carry bottles and pints. Others smoke cigarettes, but infrequently.