The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus 2009

Critics score:
64 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: The cinema's greatest fantasist serves up towering cliffs and blinding blizzards, Satan conjuring up clouds he can walk on, a road of rose petals winding into a desert -- an imagination that has no peer. Read more

A.O. Scott, At the Movies: A surprisingly interesting picture. Read more

Jonathan F. Richards, Terry Gilliam, the veteran film director who cut his teeth as the animation wizard of television's legendary Monty Python's Flying Circus, has flirted with genius throughout his career, and bedded her from time to time. In The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnas Read more

Jake Coyle, Associated Press: The resulting film is an outlandish juggling act. It teeters, creaks and breaks at the seams, but somehow holds together better than you would expect and better than such an extravagant farce should. Read more

Tasha Robinson, AV Club: Gilliam is Parnassus, carrying his tatterdemalion show forward from year to year and trying to get people to pay attention, and the mingled sense of bitterness and hope in his story makes this whole crazed fantasy into something far more real. Read more

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: If you're game, Parnassus is a richly rewarding experience. If not, it comes off like pretentious nonsense. Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: Your mileage may vary, especially if you feel that the gifted celebrity dead should be mourned with taste and decorum. In which case, why are you even at a Terry Gilliam movie? Read more

J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader: The behind-the-scenes tragedy gives Gilliam an easy excuse for the dull chaos that engulfs the story, but he might have generated it all on his own. Read more

Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News: When it's all done we're left with another recent Gilliam trademark: the highly imaginative mess. Read more

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: It teases with magnificently tantalizing moments that don't quite add up to one grand insight. Which, come to think of it, is an epiphany of its own peculiar sort. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: Parnassus is fun to watch a good deal of the time, and Gilliam is almost always visually surprising, but Ledger could have used a more momentous send-off. Read more

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: As is so often the case since his Monty Python days, Gilliam is best at visual games and weakest at storytelling. Read more

Christine Champ, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus is one of those movies that, despite spectacular elements, doesn't add up to a spectacular film. Read more

Amy Nicholson, I.E. Weekly: If he had lived, Ledger would be glad to see his name in the credits. Read more

Anthony Lane, New Yorker: [Gilliam] can follow any train of thought, so he does, and it's no surprise when the trains run out of steam. Read more

Lou Lumenick, New York Post: Not up to the very best work of either Gilliam or Ledger, but it's a surprisingly satisfying coda to the latter's all-too-brief career. Read more

Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is vintage Terry Gilliam, a pour not to all tastes but one certain to please lovers of Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: If I was a teacher and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was a student's paper, I would give it an "incomplete." Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: I attended the Cannes screening of Doctor Parnassus to be baffled, which I was, and then the Chicago press screening, where I had an idea what was coming and tried to reopen my mind. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: Despite a shaky framework, the magic works. It's a chance to see Ledger one last time in the act of doing what he loved. Take it. Read more

Stephanie Zacharek, It meanders and jaywalks according to its own confused rhythms, and the suggestion is that if we don't get it -- or if we get bored -- we're just not clued in to Gilliam's genius. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: It plays like a salvage job, with all the attendant compromises. Though the film is laden with backstory and exposition, not much actually happens onscreen. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: I'd love to report that The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a work of renegade genius. Alas, it's a minor film, memorable largely as the farewell of Heath Ledger, who died when his scenes were only half completed. Read more

Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Terry Gilliam is a director who aspires to magic and, with The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, he's pulled an unruly rabbit out of a seemingly discarded hat. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: Parnassus continues Gilliam's decade-old habit of sabotaging his work by piling on wild images without regard to character development or storytelling. Read more

Hank Sartin, Time Out: Read more

Keith Uhlich, Time Out: It's a film teeming with visual invention (often to the point of exhaustion), yet the big-budget pageantry is always counterbalanced by Gilliam's deeply felt and thematically potent sympathy for the downtrodden artistes of the world. Read more

Tom Huddlestone, Time Out: It's unlikely Gilliam's own, undeniably brilliant career will be revitalised by this rambling, undisciplined and indulgent piece of work. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: Though rambling and at times self-indulgent, its wit and pageantry, boosted by Heath Ledger's final performance, render it irresistible. Read more

Ronnie Scheib, Variety: Read more

Todd McCarthy, Variety: The helmer has made a pretty good thing out of a very bad situation in "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus". Read more

Ella Taylor, Village Voice: Gilliam and McKeown's willful refusal of coherent narrative and determination to pack every idea about art they ever had into one scenario, make this fiendishly gorgeous movie more exhausting than exhilarating to watch. Read more

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: Shot through with a bold, extravagant generosity of spirit, this journey behind the literal and figurative looking glass marks a gratifying return to form for Gilliam, whose recent films haven't quite lived up to his capacities. Read more