Fireflies in the Garden (R)
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I happened to see a used DVD of this in a store, and decided to pick it up, mainly because Hayden Panettiere was in it. Though her role isn't huge, and the cast actually includes a bunch of good actors, the main one being Ryan Reynolds. When I watched it, I wasn't sure if I'd bother writing a review, but I kept thinking that not so long ago I watched another movie ("I Love You, Beth Cooper") with Panettiere in a much larger role, which I didn't review. And part of me always kind of wished I had. Sometime between my watching of these two movies, I started this section of movie reviews, which is where I'd put the review of the other movie (and later, I kinda did). So I figure I might as well put a review of this movie here. Not that it's really "meh," it was actually a decent movie. I guess. Just not that memorable. But it had its moments, and everyone in it was good.
Um... so it flashes back between the present, when Reynold's character, Michael Taylor, is an adult; and one summer when he was a kid. His father, Charlie (Willem Dafoe), was a professor of English at a university, I guess, and apparently a frustrated, unsuccessful novelist. In the present, Michael is a successful writer, which has stoked Charlie's resentment of his son, though it seems as if they never had a good relationship. Charlie's relationship with his wife, Lisa (Julia Roberts), was also not great. Anyway, in the flashbacks, Lisa's much younger sister, Jane (played by Panettiere in flashbacks and Emily Watson in the present), came to live with them, and formed a friendship with her nephew, Michael (who wasn't that much younger than her). But the majority of the movie is set in the present. There's supposed to be a family reunion, including everyone I've mentioned so far, as well as Jane's husband, Jimmy (George Newbern), their kids, Christopher and Leslie; and Michael's younger sister, Ryne (with whom Lisa was pregnant in the flashbacks). However, pretty early on, Charlie and Lisa have a car accident, in which Lisa is killed.
And... there's not much more I can say. Charlie feels some guilt over the accident, and Christopher feels a lot of guilt, himself. There's a lot of family drama, and I didn't necessarily follow all of it. For the most part, Charlie seems like an ass, but there are a number of scenes in which it's clear that he has a good side, and that he feels bad about his bad side. But Michael is the focus of the story, in both the present and flashbacks. The title of the movie, I guess, is also the title of his latest book, a (fictionalized) memoir of his childhood. Which would be devastating to his father. But... I dunno, the end makes it kind of unclear whether it will actually be published or not. Anyway, the overall plot of the movie is kind of meh, but I liked some of the small moments, particularly whenever Michael- or Charlie- interacted with Christopher and/or Leslie. Those two kids were kinda great, but I'm sure I won't remember them long. Reynolds definitely did a good job, but if you want to see him in this type of role in a much more memorable film, I'd suggest Definitely, Maybe.