182: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (PG-13) - 2010 - Runtime: 123 Minutes
Starring: Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Tom Waits, Verne Troyer
Director: Terry Gilliam

Don't let the title fool you, this movie is by far Gilliam's most accessible movie ever, slightly more so than 12 Monkeys (one of my Top 20 movies of all time!). When I first heard about the movie, it sounded completely absurd and something that would be too artsy. But instead, this movie is quite fun and filled with lots of whimsy and of course, imagination, duh! And while I don't think it's a great movie, it's still good and worth checking out, even if you're not a fan of Gilliam. Plus it's Ledger's last movie and he's in it throughout except for three scenes in which Farrell, Depp and Law step in to play his role.

The whole premise of the movie is simple: Doctor Parnassus (played impeccably by Plummer) made a deal with the devil to win over souls and in turn become immortal, in which the good Doctor actually beats the devil. But the devil is shrewd and offers a deal for Parnassus to be young again so he can win over the love of a young lady (isn't it always about some girl?) but in return he must give away the soul of any child when they turn 16. Of course Parnassus has a kid and has kept it secret from her about her impending fate. It's with this backdrop that Ledger's character comes swinging into the story (quite literally) and sets up the final deal with the devil: first to five souls wins. Now you're probably wondering where the whole imaginarium gets thrown in. Well, it's hard to describe but he's a travelling carnival of sorts where you can explore your own imagination. It's a pretty cool set up and every time the movie travels into someone's imagination, it becomes filled with the offbeat characters and sets that Gilliam is known for.

The story is actually pretty good and Ledger is wonderful as the mysterious Tony. I couldn't say the same for his stand-ins: they pale in comparison to Ledger's unique performance. The rest of the cast is just as good, Plummer plays his part brilliantly and Waits as the Devil himself is too good. I thought Troyer might be a out of place, but he fits in nicely as pretty much the straight guy in the group. The movie's a lot of fun and whisks by in no time - it's about two hours and it did not feel that long.

While not exactly an earth-shattering event movie, Imaginarium is a quirky, but surprisingly simple, story that captures Gilliam's creativity at its best. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this one to anyone who is looking for an adventure story. It's wonderfully cast and beautiful to look at, but most of all, it's just a fun movie.

Rating: Rent It!

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