dream_a_little_dream

Review: DREAM A LITTLE DREAM (1989)

by Meredith Grau
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Best Bad Quote:
“Why can’t you laugh like a man?”
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I’m sure a lot of elderly folk wish that they could wake up in a younger person’s body; be instantaneously reborn with and enjoy a little of the lost vigor of youth, which sadly disappears from their bones but never their minds. What an opportunity… A second change at glory! To do it all over again with decades of knowledge and the appropriate wisdom to make the best of things! Sounds like a supreme fantasy, eh? Well, imagine the horror one would feel if such a situation occurred, but you woke up in the body of [dun dun dun]: Corey Feldman!!! Welcome to the fright fest of Dream a Little Dream, otherwise known as Jason Robards’ worst nightmare.
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So, this movie is about the intersecting, disembodied, and then confused lives of Coleman Ettinger (Robards, acting legend, whatever) and Bobby Keller (just Feldman). Coleman is a highly evolved smarty-pants who is trying to escape into some existential, meditative state wherein he can live forever with his wife (Piper Laurie). Basically, he fears the reaper. As a bitter old and unfulfilled man, he frequently takes his irritation out on the pesky teenagers who cut through his backyard like they own “the yard.” Punks! Anywho, it is while Coleman is searching for his miracle chi one night that Bobby– the main boil in the elder gents’ asstro turf (zap)– is simultaneously is hit by a bike and knocked unconscious. Somehow, some way, these two mutually elevated souls become cosmically linked. And swapped! While Bobby remains trapped in otherworldly limbo, Coleman returns to earth inhabiting the boy’s teenage body. These two inter-dimensionally criss-crossed men are thus forced to step outside their personal perspectives to absorb and reexamine the very meaning of life and existence. Bobby surprisingly prefers the inactivity of spiritual absentia, while Coleman finds himself fighting for the forgotten passions of young love, eventually determined to woo the young Lainie (Meredith Salenger– awesome name) whom he believes to be his physically displaced bride. But Lainie’s boyfriend, Joel (William McNamara), sure doesn’t like Feldman sniffing around his woman. Jock knocks ensue.
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It’s all very confusing. But it’s not. But it is… Or Is it? I dunno. It’s an oddity, let’s put it that way. Suffice it to say, mini-Meredith (Grau) found it strangely compelling, as she did most things that played on her private Home Box Office back in the day.
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The good news, and the reason I even sat through this flick in the first place, O those many years ago, is that this film is a product of the notorious Two-Coreys tag-team. Huzzah! The bad news? The slightly less charismatic Corey F. is in the lead, and Haim is shifted to the supporting role of Bobby’s disbelieving but loyal friend, Dinger. Dinger… Why were eighties names so awesome? Anyway, the miscasting isn’t terrible. Feldman is quirky and has a surprising maturity for his age– you forget these poor guys were just kids when they were making these films– so his “old man in a young body” performance isn’t half bad. Feldman is also by nature a little creepier than his bro’, which helps in the film’s eerier aspects, but you kind of keep waiting for Haim to take the wheel. He, and only he, has the License to Drive, as you may recall. While Corey H. adds his usual hyped-up, hypnotic charm to the role– of Dinger— the film dwindles into boredom at times, because his generously erratic and enthusiastic sideline humor can’t compensate for the eyebrow raising conundrum that is the plot. This is not just another teen movie. It needs a firm hand. (Now you’re thinking of masturbation. Pervert).
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Also, beware, because this jewel must have been filmed smack dab in the middle of the Corey duo’s questionable Michael Jackson phase, after the inappropriate touching was rumored to have taken place and before either had really dealt with it. To make things as uncomfortable as possible, Feldman is essentially decked out to look just like Wacko Jacko. His jet-black hair is styled exactly like the King of Pop and, at one point, he indulges in what appears to be a Jackson-choreographed, groin-popping dance routine to impress (scare?) Lainie into loving him. Of course, certain tribesman use the powers of dance to impress their women, so you see how far-reaching the film’s themes are. Still, while watching CF grab his crotch in my youth was head-slappingly funny, now… now, it’s just… Look, there are layers and layers. Deep, psychological things are happening in this movie, and not just in the script. It’s like falling into the portal of pedophilia’s revenge. A cringe is not a happy face.
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On the upside, the movie possesses those lovable ’80s/’90s cheese factors that we hold so dear: an “interesting” soundtrack, our favorite teen stars– who are much more fascinating than today’s plastic people– and clothes that make you grab your belly and fall off your chair laughing. What hues, what hats, what multi-layered compilations! Who were we, and how the eff did we survive? Another positive is that as opposed to other switch-em-up storylines like Freaky Fridaywith Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris or Like Father Like Son with Dudley Moore and Kirk Camer–LOESIGTioshng!!! Sorry, I just coughed up locust… Ahem, as I was saying, as opposed to thosefilms, Dream A Little Dream is much headier and surprisingly deeper than, “Hey, being old/young isn’t as easy as I thought/remember.” You go places. You go in deep. (Now you’re thinking about sex. Pervert).
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With Feldman’s lovable gooberishness, he indeed creates a beguilingly likable character, and you can’t help but root for him to get the girl– even if she is way hotter than he deserves, and you don’t want to see them kiss, because the Feldmans of the world can’t kiss. Or have sex. God wouldn’t allow that. Corey’s smooth like a Ken Doll. He must be… While he can’t quite pull off the leading man position with the same underdog Haim poetry (Lucas) nor comic but able heroics (Watchers), it’s nice to see second-fiddle Feldman grab the helm, take to sea of iniquity, and howl with his gravelly, inbred squeak-toy voice, “Ahoy, matey! Batten down the hatches!” Apparently, in my mind, he’s a pirate. Depp robbed him of his big comeback as Jack Sparrow. I’m certain of it.
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In summation, I don’t totally get nor understand this movie, but by God, do I respect its weirdness. And also: Robards.
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Rating:
3 out of 5 WTFeldmans
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