- Ghosts of Empire Prairie (2013) Review

Title: Dreamworld

Also known as:

Year: 2012

Genre: Independent / Drama / Romance / Comedy

Language: English

Runtime: 93 min

Director: Ryan Darst

Writer: Whit Hertford & Robert J. Gibbs


The luck of an animator is running out when a studio shows no interest to his latest pitch. However, his luck seems to be turning around when he meets a young, free-spirited woman at an art exhibit who knows a guy at Pixar who she can help him get a pitch with. Love blooms between the two as they go on a roadtrip to San Francisco to meet the guy. But will love last once secrets are revealed?

Our thoughts:
Second to horror, the most common indie genre is drama/comedy. It's understandable because all you need is a good script and good actors - no fancy effects, big sets, large budgets, and so on. "Clerks" among other title taught us that. And there's nothing wrong with the genre, I really enjoy many of them. "Dreamworld" hit my mailbox by surprise, as it was sent to me without me knowing it even existed. That happens with plenty of movies, but rarely for drama/comedy so I have been hesitant towards it. I finally woke up and felt like this was a good day to watch it, I was completely in the mood, so I sat down with my breakfast and gave it a shot.

This review isn't completely spoiler free. I won't reveal most things, but certain parts are important for me bring up to state my opinion.

Oliver is an animator with a new kids show on his hands. It's about mythological creatures trying to get along in the real world. But no one is interested. He has a pitch with a studio, but they don't seem to care for his idea at all. Defeated he goes back home, but as luck would have it he meets a cute, quirky girl on an art exhibit. Her name is Lily. After some chit-chat, she tells him about a friend of hers who works at Pixar. She suggests they'll go meet him in San Francisco. Oliver goes home and thinks it over and realizes that the only way to reach his dream is to go on this spontaneous trip with this eccentric girl. Their trip builds a love between them, but also reveals their inner secrets, fears and dreams, and for a minute it seems like they're in a world of their own. When reality hits as they get closer to San Francisco things are harder than what they originally seemed when Lily shows her true colors.

I'm completely torn with my opinion on "Dreamworld". It starts out really entertaining, and it's about an artist. You all know how much I love movies about filmmaking, writing and art in general. And this one seemed to succeed in actually being funny. But then we're introduced to Lily. The most stereotypical character of the movie, and as it turns out it was intentional. Inspired by the care-free, rebellious and free spirited women of film often dubbed as "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" by film critic Nathan Rabin. The movie is honest about it, one character even calls her that specifically when talking about it, followed by movies featuring that character (such as "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World"). It took me quite a while to accept her character, it was just hard to care for the scenes between her and Oliver because they both seemed to jump into stereotypes when together. Whit Hertford as Oliver was great whenever she wasn't around. Isn't that weird?

This is a movie that works because for the most part it has believable actors and a good script. I even liked most of the minor characters, even though I had some issues with the two leads when they had scenes together. Other than those stereotypical moments, I think the cast was great. Both Whit Hertford and Mary Kate Wiles took their roles to the heart, managing to show a range of emotions to help make them matter.

Beware, this is the point where I get into some spoilers.

At the same time, I got used to the stereotypes as I realized it was intentional. Their trip becomes just this nice, somewhat odd bonding experience. I didn't mind the movie even when Lily reveals a secret which I don't understand how Oliver could have took with such ease. I accepted it, because overall I was having a good time with the movie. But then the ending hits, and in just a few seconds we learn to hate Lily. And I mean really, really hate her. I wouldn't have cared if she got murdered by that point. This was hard to accept, but it made the movie interesting. It took me by surprise, so I sort of liked it that way. What I couldn't stand is that the movie ends in a way too comfortable manner after that. There is no way for me to like her character again, yet the movie tries to end it with forgiveness. Fuck that, it didn't work. I thought the movie had a perfectly good ending prepared before that. At least it had some sort of a revelation about how everything, even the bad things, serve a purpose. After that, the movie completely fucked itself over.

I'm really not sure what I thought of "Dreamworld" as I have two completely opposite opinions on it. For the most part it was funny, calm and sweet. It took me some getting used to the stereotypical character that was Lily, but after that I enjoyed it. Then it turned into a really anxious experience, which was also fine once I got used to it. It seemed to turn to something very interesting, but in the end it took the safe way out and I couldn't muster up enough care for what happened then. For what it is worth, the movie got a reaction out of me and that's more than most, but whether it was for better or worse I don't know. I don't think I will ever know, but at least it gave for an interesting review to write.

Positive things:
- Good actors, except when the characters got too stereotypical.
- Manages to be interesting for most of its runtime.
- Oliver's animations were refreshingly great. Most movies about making arts try to keep away from showing the art.

Negative things:
- The stereotypes.
- I hated how it ended. It was too safe.

Gore: 0/5
Nudity: 0/5
Story: 3/5
Effects: 0/5
Comedy: 3/5

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