HomeMovies Reviews‘Slumberland’ Review: Jason Momoa in Francis Lawrence’s Innocuous Netflix Kids’ Pic

‘Slumberland’ Review: Jason Momoa in Francis Lawrence’s Innocuous Netflix Kids’ Pic

In the early years of the twentieth century, a long-running newspaper cartoon adopted the adventures of Little Nemo in Slumberland: Each strip recounted a dream that begins with grandeur however rapidly grows unusual, till our boy hero awakens abruptly, realizing he shouldn’t have eaten a lot proper earlier than bedtime. Each installment was a full web page, playfully composed and dazzlingly coloured, that cartoonist Winsor McCay full of creativeness and allure. It was a masterpiece. (And glorious reprints, although costly, aren’t arduous to seek out.)

Francis Lawrence’s Slumberland borrows its title and hero’s title from this strip (although this Nemo’s a woman, and older than her namesake), in addition to the concept of touring by means of desires that get harmful. For one of many movie’s posters, Netflix goes additional, taking visible themes and typography from the comedian, bolstering early studies that the movie was an adaptation. Why would they go to such bother to draw the one viewers prone to hate (or, actually, to have any robust response to) this film?


The Bottom Line

A genial adaptation that should not be confused with the supply materials.

Release date: Saturday, November 18 (Netflix)
Cast: Marlow Barkley, Jason Momoa, Chris O’Dowd, Kyle Chandler, Weruche Opia
Director: Francis Lawrence
Screenwriters: David Guion, Michael Handelman

Rated PG,
2 hours

Take heed, followers of McCay and traditional comics: Slumberland has practically nothing to do with the factor you like. Either keep away from it completely or go in together with your eyes open. But don’t, underneath any circumstances, sit in the lounge groaning each couple of minutes, complaining to the children on the couch how unimaginative this film is in comparison with the comedian.

Marlow Barkley (TV’s Single Parents) stars because the devoted daughter of a widowed lighthouse keeper (Kyle Chandler). When her dad dies making an attempt to assist a stranded boat, she’s despatched to stay with an uncle she’s by no means met, Chris O’Dowd’s Phillip. This is all boilerplate: Philip, a complete sq. who owns a doorknob firm (are you able to consider!?), has no thought methods to take care of a child; he appears to suppose that getting her enrolled in a flowery college is 90% of the job. (O’Dowd works to quash his charisma, in addition to his Irish accent, for the function. He’s extra profitable with the previous than the latter.)

Then, throughout a nasty night time’s sleep at Phillip’s smooth condo, Nemo’s four-poster mattress creaks up onto its lengthening legs (an fulfilling gag, and considered one of only a few clear hyperlinks to the comedian) and walks her into a wierd new world of desires.

She quickly meets Flip (Jason Momoa), an enormous man with fangs, twitching doe ears and the horns of a ram. (Even with these distractions, his Trish Summerville-designed outfits earn our consideration.) Nemo is aware of Flip from her father’s tales of his “outlaw” youth: They had been finest associates as children, however by some means Flip obtained caught within the unconscious realm. Having lived along with his personal bad-boy mythology for a number of many years, he’s a bit a lot: Momoa’s model of loose-cannon comedic quirk appears to owe a debt to Michael Keaton’s Beetlejuice. But he tries to be a crew participant, enlisting the child within the normal quest: perilous journey, magic pearls, nightmares that chase you after they odor your concern.

Thankfully, this acquainted mission takes our heroes to some diverting locations. There’s a map of secret doorways main from one individual’s desires to the subsequent, sending us on a whimsical daisy chain: we would start in a Cuban ballroom the place all of the dancers are product of hundreds of butterflies, then slip right into a automotive chase the place a monster truck is pushed by a schoolboy whose duck’s-ass haircut is so massive he would possibly topple underneath its weight.

These full of life sequences, which play like Inception for primary-schoolers, let Lawrence and his crafts groups create many vivid and colourful worlds, some so sweetened by digital results you would possibly pray for a single unmanipulated vista as a palate cleanser. What you get as an alternative is the dreary gleam of Phillip’s condo, the place we’re reminded of all of the real-life stuff (grief, abandonment, conformity) the film thinks Nemo must digest in an effort to develop up.

Never thoughts that Winsor McCay’s comedian was virtually as anti-personal-growth as Seinfeld famously was: The strip might solely proceed if Nemo stored ignoring his mom’s recommendation about pre-bed snacking and had all of the desires that indigestion brings. That was over a century in the past, when children had been anticipated to work much more issues out on their very own. For all of the floor wildness of Lawrence’s Slumberland, it’s about as rule-following a household pic as you will discover.



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