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Laramie Movie Scope: Slumberland

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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December 20, 2022 – This movie, along with “Turning Red” are the best two movies I've seen this year in the well-worn “coming of age” genre. Most coming of age movies, “Stand By Me,” “American Graffiti,” “Almost Famous,” etc. are about boys becoming men, but this year, with “Turning Red” and “Slumberland,” we have a couple of great coming of age stories featuring girls becoming women.

“Slumberland” goes beyond the genre a bit to deal with issues of parenthood and it also explores the idea of retaining something of childhood, wonder and adventure, as an adult. The main character in this story is young Nemo (played by Marlow Barkley of “Spirited”) whose happy life living with her father, Peter (Kyle Chandler of “Manchester by the Sea”) is turned upside down when he is lost at sea.

Nemo goes to a big city live with her uncle, Philip (Chris O'Dowd of “Molly's Game”) who she had never met before. As if that was not enough of a change in her life, she also goes to school for the first time. Her father had been home schooling her at the lighthouse.

Philip, who is a bachelor, hasn't a clue about how to be a parent, but he tries his best. He is a doorknob salesman seems to have no social life at all. His life seems stunted, lonely and isolated, and he can't seem to connect with Nemo. He also stopped having dreams years ago as a young man, when his brother got married and moved away.

To the rescue comes Slumberland and the Bureau of Subconscious Activities, which produces dreams designed to help Nemo's transition to her new life. These are not the dreams Nemo wants. These are the dreams that Nemo needs, according to the Bureau. What Nemo wants is to go back to her past, to spend time with her late father in her dreams, and that, the Bureau has decided, is not what she needs from her dreams.

Nemo dreams of being back in her lighthouse, accompanied by her stuffed pig, who comes to life in her dreams. In the lighthouse, she finds a stranger, Flip (played by Jason Momoa of “Aquaman”) ransacking the place, looking for a map. She recognizes Flip from stories her father told her, but Flip is not interested in her. He just wants the map. The map shows the way to navigate all the dreams of all the dreamers in Slumberland.

Flip, who is childlike and mischievous, explains that he wants to use the map to find a secret place in Slumberland where there are magic pearls that can grant wishes. He promises Nemo that if she finds the map for him, he will take her to the place where the pearls are, and that she can use the pearls to visit her father. Nemo finds the map in the real world and then sets off with Flip for a Dreamland adventure to find the magic pearls.

The magic pearls are located in a very dangerous place. Nemo is being pursued in Slumberland by deadly nightmares. Also, Agent Green (Weruche Opia) of the Bureau of Subconscious Activities is hot in pursuit of Flip, a wanted criminal. He never wakes up, and illegally invades the dreams of others, including Nemo. Flip has been in dreamland so long, he has forgotten his true identity in the real world.

Nemo starts to spend too much time dreaming in Slumberland, skipping classes, going to bed early, that she is neglecting her life in pursuit of dreams. She begins to understand the danger, not only of dreaming too much, but also the danger of abandoning one's dreams. She and Flip both will need all their courage take some big chances to reach the climax of their adventures in dreamland, and in the real world too.

This movie is based on the comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay. It is directed by Francis Lawrence of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” The screenplay by David Guion and Michael Handelman (“Night at the Museum”). What the actors, music and visual creative teams have here done is create a magical world that relates to the real world as well. This film rates an A.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2022 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]