Nicolas Cage is back on the big screen, this time starring as a hapless, hopeless, and hokey university professor named Paul Matthews. He is ultimately a forgettable guy with below-average looks and no publications or works to tie his name to, even though he is a tenured university professor; nothing about him even whispers special. That is until he suddenly begins appearing in everybody’s — and I mean everybody’s — dreams.
Instant fame adorns his average life and quite literally changes everything overnight. He becomes the most interesting man in the world after being the mainstay of people’s dreams. Yet, in said dreams, he acts as a passerby, a passenger of life who refuses to act in any situation. Dreams range from a student avoiding crocodiles by standing on a table to someone eating blueberry muffin-shaped mushrooms in a field and being stalked by a murderer — all very entertaining sequences when we get them throughout the film.
This idea that Paul is brimming with inaction in everybody’s dreams forces him to look inward and reevaluate why that might be the case. When the movie allows for time to explore this and other similar themes, it outlasts its time on the silver screen, positioning important life questions. Do our dreams reflect our deepest and truest meanings? Or are they just mirages that embody some of our greatest fears?
As he is overcome with the sensational limelight of fame, his dream presence begins to take a turn for the worse and morph oddball, silly dreams into frightening nightmares.
Nicolas Cage Delivers Some of His Best Work in ‘Dream Scenario’
Cage consistently delivers some of the funniest, most unhinged work of his career through the quippy, witty, fast-moving dark comedy of director Kristoffer Borgli. The quick character evolution — from a nobody to a superstar to a nightmarish entity — plays like two sides of a coin. It allows Cage to show comedic and dramatic range that is more than enough to keep you on your toes yet refuses to let the movie settle into what could be some fascinating deep character and thematic analysis. In one scene in particular, Cage delves deep into the humor bin to break the serious nature of a cringe-worthy interaction that ends up being as hilarious as it is challenging. These moments make for a truly enjoyable ride throughout Paul Matthews’ dream journey.
Produced by Ari Aster and distributed by A24, this cringey, off-beat flick passes the vibe test. It attempts to address major modern-day themes such as fame addiction, human legacy, and the importance of living in the moment. While the themes don’t always come across with the power that one would hope (sometimes the meta nature of the message can dilute itself) they are still told in entertaining and interesting ways that allow the movie to venture into being something beyond just a weird comedy starring Nic Cage.
There are several moments throughout the film that are endearing and open up conversation and exploration into relationships, self-importance, and the impact the ever-changing world has on those. Cage is able to closely and cleanly walk the tightrope between crazed dream maniac and compassionate husband striving to be the best he can be. While admittedly the movie loses its essence that makes those moments shine, it is able to pull it all home in the final act in a more than satisfying way that sparkles with charm.
It’s easy to see that this film will find a cult following like many of A24’s recent films have the knack of doing. Funny, strange, and entertaining, to say the least, we are lucky to say that Dream Scenario actually exists on the big screen and not just in our dreams.
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'Dream Scenario' Review'Dream Scenario' Review
- Fun, inventive premise that tackles heavy modern-day themes.
- Nic Cage being Nic Cage.
- Themes are spread thin through too much humor and levity.
- Shorter runtime truncates ability to get deeper into characters.