As we watched “Slumberland,” we could tell that its narrative was utterly confused between being a kids’ movie and a movie for adults. This confusion seems to be a dominant problem in most movies set in the fantasy realm these days, a recent example being “The School for Good and Evil.” But while that at least exhibited some sense of imagination regarding the world of fairytales, “Slumberland” missed the mark. Seriously, guys, you had the entire dreamworld as your canvas, and all you could explore were just four random dreams that were not even that imaginative or visually pleasing.
In a world where children and adults alike are watching movies from Marvel and Disney, Slumberland was extremely underwhelming. We mean, whatever we say about “Multiverse of Madness” as a movie, the scene where our protagonist is hurled across multiple timelines really sets a benchmark because of how much it resonated with people’s imagination and the stories they have been exposed to since the beginning of cinema. And the makers of “Slumberland” wasted a massive opportunity where they could have really created something on par with that, if not by visuals, then at least by dialogue. Let us go through the narrative of the movie and see why it feels so unspectacular to us.
Nemo is an 11-year-old girl who lives with her dad on an island, watching over a lighthouse. That is her entire world, and she is quite happy with it. One night, her dad tells her a bedtime story about how he and his friend Flip had traveled to the sea of nightmares to find magic pearls that would grant the owner any wish they would ask for. But before Peter can complete the story, he has to leave for an urgent task. That night, Nemo has a dream where she sees a giant squid, one that her father had mentioned in his story, and sees his capsized boat.
When she wakes up from her nightmare, she is informed by Clara that her father was lost at sea. As per Peter’s last wishes, Nemo must go and live with her uncle Philip in the city. He seems like a nice enough man, although very different from Peter, who was far more adventurous. Nemo misses her dad immensely and is trying hard to deal with her loss. After she goes to sleep on her first night at her uncle’s place, she has a dream where her piggy doll comes alive, and her bed takes her to the lighthouse, where she runs into Flip. We don’t think we are wrong when we say that this movie needed someone who has that wild charm, not just the wild look. For that reason, maybe Jason Mamoa wasn’t the best choice.
Either way, Flip tells her about a map that he is looking for and how he needs it to locate the magic pearls that would grant every wish. Nemo has no idea about the map, but she is intrigued by the idea of the pearls. The next day, in her dream, her pig locates the map for her. That is enough for Nemo to come up with a plan. She sneakily uses Philip’s phone to take a leave for herself and goes to school, where she sleeps on a hammock in a hidden place with all her tools. As she travels back to Slumberland, she shows the map to Flip and tells him that he must take her to the pearls. He is hesitant but is convinced when Nemo uses the double-knock method of the outlaw code.
The salsa dancer is a nun in a choir, the dapper dresser is an office worker taking a nap, the kid driving the truck is, well, a child who has built the model that he is dreaming about, and the guy on the goose is celebrating a win for Canada. Flip had previously mentioned about the salsa dancer that she must be nothing like that in her real life, and it turned out to be true. Humans are complex beings and seldom show their complete selves to the real world.
There are often secret parts of them, hidden for whatever reason, that manifest in their dreams. And then there are those like the child and the Canadian who are so passionate about following their dreams that they make them a reality. The child will no doubt make a great engineer, and the Canadian’s greatest hobby is sports. There is also a blip about lost childhoods being part of people’s dreams. Had the significance of dreams to people’s real-life been explored more, it would have made the movie far more engaging. Now, it is just something that is too surface level to hold our interest.
Coming back to the storyline, as Flip and Nemo are a few steps away from the lighthouse, which is the safe space that the squid can’t enter, Nemo starts feeling ill. That is because, in the waking world, she is in a lot of danger as her boat is in danger of capsizing. Philip is on his way with a rescue team when they spot Nemo.
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