Saturday, March 06, 2010

Boy, Spielberg must hate this movie...

Yeah, I know everyone's all raving about this whole Avatar craze, but you know what? It wasn't the first movie to think up the idea of people projecting themselves into alternate realities. Being John Malkovich comes to mind... Altered States... damn! I knew that was too broad a setup. So let me include another thing I noticed. If you read enough online movie reviews, you're bound to discover that many critics have a soft spot in their hearts for some movie that you think is a campy piece of garbage. And it's probably something from the 80s, that wonderful decade, where the worst of the 70s transmogrified into a new flavor of badness. The decade where a movie score composer could get by on less than the London Symphony Orchestra at their command. Often all they had was a used Roland synthesizer and their imagination. And most of these things could be applied to Dreamscape. The one from 1984, not the one from 2000, 2006 or 2007. And certainly not Stephen King's Nightmares and Dreamscapes from 2006.
Sadly, I'm inclined to fall into the second category. I don't stand by every movie I saw when I was young, dumb and full of... hope for the future, until I realized I couldn't coast on my Brad Pitt-good looks forever. But Dreamscape wasn't without its charms. I still like the kid's snake man dream sequence. But in general, kids' dreams in America are ignored. When was the last time you told your kid to fight his dream demons? Or buy him a set of lucid dreaming goggles that flash tiny red lights when the eyes start the REM movements? And when was a kid so tormented by dreams anyway? Aren't there enough bullies in real life? I should know! I've seen plenty of Adam Sandler movies, so I know all about bullies.
There's plenty of acting talent to be had here. With a rare serious role from Norm on Cheers, to boot! Also, Christopher Plummer as a slimy Cheney-esque bad guy. Sigh. His days of The Return of the Pink Panther are long gone. Maybe he'll get the Oscar in a couple days just on g.p. And of course, leading man Dennis Quaid. Surely the 80s were his favourite decade. He was the poor man's Harrison Ford. I know! I learned all about inferior goods in economics class. Not that Quaid's inferior, of course, just in comparison to Indiana Jones. Incidentally, on the commentary, they do note that both this movie and Temple of Doom feature a heart being forcibly removed, and yet, Temple of Doom got a PG rating. But they get the last laugh, ultimately. This was before the PG-13 meant you can only use the f word once. I counted, what? Three, four? Someone ought to do a study of that... But the main thing is that the 80s were pretty darn good for Dennis Quaid. Seemed like he was doing about 5 movies a year during the 80s. Another good idea for a study.
Of course, this being a Joseph Ruben film, it's bound to be more than a little campy. He does the prestige pics like True Believer and Return to Paradise, of course, but he also does the unsophisticated stuff, too, like Money Train and The Good Son and The Pom Pom Girls. And... oh, crap! The Stepfather. And Sleeping With The Enemy. That kind of fare. And something called Gorp. Reminds me: I gotta remember to clean my shoes. So this movie will undoubtedly leave you scratching your head in spots, asking questions like, why is it, in movies like this, that the main character plays the movie's theme on the saxophone? At least David Patrick Kelly was actually blowing into the saxophone. Here he does a dialed-down version of the character he played in The Warriors, a psychopathic killer, in dreams and otherwise, named Tommy Ray Glatman. Hmm! Also three names! Interesting. No one mentions him in the other online reviews, I bet.
Some have called this a sci-fi thriller, but really, only to the extent of the dream linking equipment involved. "Who's your decorator? Darth Vader?" Great line. Michael Bay couldn't have done better. And his films have some pretty tacky lines, that's for sure. I guess that's about all I got. Oh, I do like the part where Quaid and his two, um, bounty hunters or whatever, are walking him leisurely down the college hallway to a waiting room. Gotta like the thrilling music that accompanies that slow-paced scene. And the security guard who checks him in: I'll bet that guy was a Shakespearean actor. Good voice! There are no small parts with one line: only small actors.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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