Dream Scenario Parent Guide
This film will make you think. No guarantees that you'll enjoy the experience.
Parent Movie Review
What if you were held responsible for your behaviour in other people’s dreams? University professor Paul Matthews (Nicolas Cage) is about to find out. Grey and inoffensive, he’s spent his life almost entirely invisible to the people around him. Now, Paul has suddenly become a celebrity as thousands of people all over the world start dreaming about him. Well, not about him, per se – he simply wanders through their dreams, never becoming involved or actually doing anything, just showing up.
Curiosity about the inexplicable phenomenon has given Paul a spot in the public eye; one he hopes will help him find a publisher for the book he’s dreamed of writing. Unsurprisingly, he soon learns that fame is a fickle friend.
As the dreams darken, people start having nightmares in which Paul does horrible and violent things or they have strange sex dreams featuring the unwitting professor. Trying to keep his life together as he becomes a pariah shows Paul just how fragile things can be.
As you might expect, Nicolas Cage puts 110% into the role, and his portrayal of the sad, ineffectual, and downright unfortunate Paul Matthews takes on a life of his own. It’s a dismal life, full of regrets and awkward moments, but it’s all he has to lose. The film is less a horror comedy and more a comedic tragedy, seeing Paul come to misfortune after misfortune due to events outside his control. Believe it or not, that part is the comedy. The tragedy is in the choices Paul makes, the things which he could control but due to his fundamental nature, fails to change. It’s compelling, depressing viewing. The film also generates a lot of commentary about modern life, the perils of the internet, and accountability – but I’ll let you unpack that on your own.
Clever storytelling and excellent acting notwithstanding, Dream Scenario will not become a staple on family movie nights anytime soon. Profanity and unsettling violence are the most frequent concerns, but an adulterous (and deliberately profoundly uncomfortable) liaison might make you think twice about who you want sitting with you as you watch.
As with other concept-driven movies, the less I say, the more rewarding you will find the movie to be. The fun of the movie is in the thinking; exploring the ideas and narrative twists for yourself, and drawing your own conclusions. This isn’t a film everyone is going to love, but I do think it’s one that will make viewers think. Given that most releases are designed to be completely brainless entertainment, watching something that doesn’t require you to switch your cerebral cortex into airplane mode is a good idea. Even if you don’t think you’ll like it. Arguably, especially if you don’t think you’ll like it.Directed by Kristoffer Borgli. Starring Nicolas Cage, Julianne Nicholson, Michael Cera. Running time: 100 minutes. Theatrical release November 22, 2023. Updated November 25, 2023
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Rating & Content Info
Why is Dream Scenario rated R? Dream Scenario is rated R by the MPAA for language, violence and some sexual content.
Violence: In dream sequences, characters are stabbed, beaten, choked, bludgeoned, and shot with arrows. There is bloody detail in a scene where a man is killed by being repeatedly hit in the head with a hammer. A bloody figure whose skin has been removed pursues a person in a dream. A character’s finger is unintentionally mildly injured in a heavy door.
Sexual Content: There are several sexually suggestive remarks. There is an adulterous affair involving kissing and groping. A man ejaculates prematurely when a woman starts to remove his clothing. In a dream a woman is frightened by a strange man in her room but becomes aroused when he puts his hand on her crotch (which is covered in clothing). There are several non-detailed mentions of dreams about sexual assault.
Profanity: There are 22 sexual expletives, four scatological curses, and regular use of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen drinking socially.
Page last updated November 25, 2023
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Other odd offerings from Nic Cage include Pig, Mandy, Willy’s Wonderland, and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Studio A24 is no stranger to the unusual either, with films like The Lighthouse, Men, Enemy, and Everything Everywhere All At Once. Fans of the strange and unsettling elements of this film might enjoy I’m Thinking of Ending Things.