In the early century, a long-running newspaper comic strip followed Adventures Little Nemo of Slumberland : each one tells a story Dreams that start grand but quickly become weird, until our boy hero suddenly wakes up and realizes he shouldn’t be eating so much at bedtime. Each issue is a full page, with playful composition and eye-catching colors, and cartoonist Windsor McKay is imaginative and charismatic. This is a masterpiece. (And excellent reprints, expensive but not hard to find.)
Francis Lawrence ‘s Slumberland borrows its title and hero’s name (though this Nemo is a girl and is older than her namesake), as well as the idea of traversing a dreamland that becomes dangerous. For one poster for the film, Netflix went a step further, drawing visual themes and typography from the comics, supporting earlier reports that the film was an adaptation. Why would they go to great lengths to appeal to the only audience who might hate (or, really, have any strong reaction to the film)?
Bottom line A cordial adaptation that should not be confused with the source material.
Release Date: Saturday, November 18 ) (Netflix) Cast: Marlowe Barkley, 90 Jason Momoa , Chris O’Dowd, , Kyle · Chandler, Weruche Opia
Director: Francis Lawrence
Screenwriter: David Jean, Michael Handman
Rated PG, 2 hours
Note, McKay and classic fan comics: Slumberland almost as much as you love things are irrelevant. Either avoid it entirely, or go in with your eyes open. But under no circumstances should you sit in the living room moaning every few minutes complaining to the kids on the couch how unimaginative the movie is compared to the comics.
Marlow Barkley (TV’s Single Parent ) as the faithful daughter of the widowed lighthouse keeper (Kyle Chandler). When her father dies while trying to help a stranded ship, she is sent to live with Philip of Chris O’Dowd, an uncle she has never met. It’s all boilerplate: Philip, a regular guy with a doorknob company (can you believe it!?), doesn’t know how to take care of a child; he seems to think that getting her into a fancy school is 90% work. (O’Dowd worked hard to remove his charm, as well as his Irish accent, for the role. The former was more successful than the latter.)
Then, in a bad sleep at Philip’s In the stylish apartment, Nemo’s four-poster bed creaks on its elongated legs (a delightful gag, and one of the very few explicit links to the comics) and transports her into a strange new world of dreams .
She soon meets Flip (Jason Momoa), a big man with fangs, twitching doe ears and ram horns. (Even with these distractions, his Trish Summerville-designed outfit caught our eye.) Nemo met Flip from her father’s story about his “illegal” youth: They were best friends as kids, but somehow Flip sank into unconscious territory. Having lived for decades in his own bad-boy mythology, he goes a little too far: Momoa’s version of loose-cannon comedy quirks seem to owe Michael Keaton’s beetle juice. But he tries to be a team player, involving kids in the usual tasks: dangerous trips, magic pearls, nightmares chasing you when they smell your fears.
Thankfully, this familiar quest takes our hero to some interesting places. There is a map of secret doors leading from one man’s dream to another, sending us on a whimsical daisy chain: we might start with a Cuban ballroom where all the dancers are made by thousands of made of butterflies, then slipped into a car chase where there was a monster truck driven by a schoolboy with a duck-butt haircut so big that he might collapse under its weight.
These vivid sequences, like Inception for elementary school students, let Lawrence and his crafting team create many bright and colorful worlds , some of which are made so sweet by digital effects, you might pray for an untreated landscape as a palate cleanser. Instead, what you get is the dull shimmer of Philip’s apartment, reminding us of all the real-life stuff (grief, abandonment, resignation) that the movie thinks Nemo needs to digest in order to grow up.
Never mind that the Windsor McKay cartoon is almost as anti-personal growth as Seinfeld: only Nemo keeps ignoring his mother’s pre-bed snacking , do all the dreams that come with indigestion. That was more than a century ago, when kids were expected to do more on their own. For all the superficial wildness of Lawrence Slumberland , it follows the rules of family photos like you can find.
18 Full credits 18
Distributor: Netflix Production company: Chernin Entertainment
Cast: Marlow Buckley, Jason Momoa, Chris O’Dowd, Kyle Chandler, Veruche Opia, India De Beaufort, Humberly Gonzálezf Director: Francis Lawrence Screenwriters: David Jean, Michael Handman
Producers: Peter Cherning, Janno Top, David Reid, Francis Lawrence
Executive Producers: David Guion, Michael Handelman, Ray Angelic
DP: Jo Willems Production Designer: Dominic Watkins Costume Designer: Trish Summerville
Edit: Mark Yoshikawa
Composer: Pinar Toprak Casting Director: Dennis ·Charmian
Rated PG, 2 hours 20 THR Communication 18
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