MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Slumberland - Streaming on Netflix
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Starring Jason Momoa, Marlow Barkley
There was a time not so long ago when people would go to the movie theater to watch small films with interesting persons doing everyday things.
That time has passed.
Now, just about everyone stays at home and watches their content on flatscreen TVs, computers or tablets, unless there’s a new entry in the Marvel or DC Universe or a big screen spectacle.
Then there’s the occasional outlier: A large-scale, big budget family film that should be seen in a theater but instead goes directly to a streaming service: That’s Slumberland.
Inspired by Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland, a newspaper comic strip from 1905, Slumberland takes place in a storybook world in which 11-year-old Nemo (Barkley) lives with her sailor father (Kyle Chandler), in a lighthouse. One night her dad leaves to rescue boaters in peril and doesn’t return. Nemo is sent to live with her Uncle Philip (Chris O’Dowd), Peter’s brother. Since she had never met him before – and Philip is single knows little about parenting – there is awkwardness and hesitation about what the future may hold.
While Nemo is wondering about her future, she sleeps and enters into a land of dreams in which she meets Flip (Momoa), a man with ram horns, who says he is a friend of her father and invites her on a treasure hunt. They will encounter a number of other folks along the way and run, drive, and skip between alternative worlds, facing capture and other obstacles as their friendship slowly grows.
The film begins at a leisurely pace and is in no hurry to explain things. Younger children are not likely to understand or care about such an ambling plot, but there is much to enjoy for older viewers, including great performances by the three leads and a consistent sense of whimsy and heart.
Slumberland is a real gem and (like The Sea Beast, another Netflix release) uses CGI imagery to create a world of wonder and fun. I look forward to seeing it again and I encourage you to discover it for yourself.
Halo and Pitchfork Rating:
Four halos: Dreams are the setting for this imaginative movie about conquering fear, living through loss, and rebuilding family and community.
Two pitchforks: Stark reality of death; upsetting first impressions; mild swearing.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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