Slumberland Parent Guide
A solid premise is wasted on a bloated, meandering script.
Parent Movie Review
Eleven-year-old Nemo (Marlow Barkley) loves her life. She lives in a lighthouse with her father (Kyle Chandler), who teaches her about the lighthouse and regales her with stories of the mystical Slumberland, where he used to go on adventures with the outlaw Flip (Jason Momoa). After a tragic accident during a storm, the now orphaned Nemo is sent to the city to live with her uncle, Philip (Chris O’Dowd). As she adjusts to her new reality, her dreams start to feature a mysterious figure who reminds her a lot of her dad’s old friend Flip.
Children’s fantasy has a long and rich history, with many fantastic films (and books) in the genre. Netflix has decided to throw its hat in the ring with a Narnia level production, based on the century-old comic series “Little Nemo in Slumberland”. Unfortunately, though not lacking in production value or star power, the film fails to evoke the fantastical, adventurous spirit generated by the giants of the genre. The basic premise and idea is intriguing: dreams all happen in one universe controlled by a mysterious bureau and some people are able to move consciously through other people’s dreams. Sadly, this solid idea is wasted on a bloated, meandering script which can’t seem to decide what it wants to be.
I am a firm believer that movies aimed at children and families should stay as close to the 90-minute runtime mark as possible. 10 or 15 minutes over is acceptable, but there is no reason to push the 2-hour mark. Slumberland is far too long, and it feels like it. This stems from the previously mentioned script problem, but a harsh editing session could have fixed most of those issues. As it stands, the story is unfocused and lacks stakes because it’s too confusing to be easily comprehensible. It’s a story about grief, growing up, letting go, facing difficult emotions, adult-child relationships, sibling relationships, and loyalty all at once, and it’s just too much to place on one production. It’s not that the messages are bad, it’s just that there are so many of them that no single one is able to land effectively.
That all said, the visibly high budget keeps the film watchable, and at times, visually interesting. The fantasy elements are fun, and perhaps enough to get young viewers interested in the genre. But the weak story and long runtime may prevent this from becoming a family favorite. There are a few more swear words than expected for the target audience, which is surprising, but the movie is otherwise lacking in negative content. When I asked my 6-year-old was he thought of the movie he said, “It was bad, and I don’t want to watch it again”. Perhaps more blunt than I would be, but he’s definitely been honing his criticism skills!Directed by Francis Lawrence. Starring Jason Momoa, Chris O'Dowd, Kyle Chandler. Running time: 117 minutes. Theatrical release November 18, 2022. Updated November 18, 2022
Watch the trailer for Slumberland
Rating & Content Info
Why is Slumberland rated PG? Slumberland is rated PG by the MPAA for peril, action, language, some thematic elements and suggestive references.
Violence: There are some scenes of mild peril. A character punches another character multiple times. A girl is hit in the head and knocked out.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: The script contains four mild expletives and one term of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: There is brief mention of drinking alcohol.
Page last updated November 18, 2022
Slumberland Parents' Guide
Why is Flip stuck in Slumberland? What happened to get him stuck there and how does he eventually get out? What are ways that you hide your emotions and what are some healthy ways to deal with them instead?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
This movie is based on the early 20th century comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland. Compilations of the weekly strips are available in book form.
The classic tale of dreamscape adventures is Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. There are numerous editions so you can pick whichever style of illustration appeals most to your family.
In What Will You Dream of Tonight, readers can picture sleepytime adventures in magical places. Written by Frances Stickley, this book is illustrated by Anuska Allepuz.
Household items go on wild adventures as people sleep in In the Middle of the Night by Laura Purdie Salas and Angela Matteson.
For less excitement, a reassuring book about comforting dreams can be found in The Weaver by Thatcher Hurd and Elisa Kleven.
William Joyce brings dreamy illustrations and a fun story to his tale The Sandman: The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozie.
Middle school readers should enjoy Gossamer by Lois Lowry. In this dreamy tale, a tiny creature gives dreams to humans, gathering happy memories to give them peaceful slumber. Opposing her are the Sinisteeds who bring nightmares.
In The Dreamaway by Lisa Papademetriou, people sleep in bed but their consciousnesses ride the Dreanaway train. When Stella learns that her brother has been taken captive on the train, she has to save him. This book not only provides older kids with an imaginative story, it also provides gentle support for those dealing with anxiety, depression, and anger.
Older kids should also enjoy The Girl Who Could Not Dream. Written by Sarah Beth Durst, it tells the story of Sophie, who learns of a hidden dream store. When the store is broken into – and her parents disappear – Sophie needs to find them.
A dream shop is also front and center in The Nightmare Thief by Nicole Lesperance. The novel features Maren, who crafts dreams to sell. The problem comes when Maren breaks a rule and gets blackmailed into creating dark dreams. The sequel comes in The Dream Spies.
Can you imagine a world where dreams actually save people? Older teens and adults will appreciate The Marrow Thieves, by Cherie Dimaline, a near-future novel in which people have lost the ability to dream. The only people who can still reach dreamland are indigenous, so they are being hunted and killed for their bone marrow to allow others to regain their dreams. It’s a haunting, powerful novel that won Canada’s 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award and the 2017 Kirkus Prize, amongst other distinctions.