Director: Ryan Darst
Starring: Whit Hertford, Mary Kate Wiles, Nora Kirkpatrick
Dreamworld is the style of movie that I typically find interesting. If you’re trying to remember the name of a film, and can only describe it as “That independent film with the quirky cast.” chances are I’ve seen in and really liked it! But Dreamworld suffers from a number of flaws that failed to offer the movie I hoped it would be, and overall made me feel this was a story better told as a short film than a feature.
We are introduced to Oliver as he is pitching the idea of his cartoon “Life After Myth” to Nickelodeon. The pitch bombs, and he seeks the comfort of his lesbian BFF Jules (Nora Kirkpatrick), at an art show. Suddenly, he meets Lily, who in a manner of minutes tells Oliver that she has a friend that works for Pixar, can give Oliver the chance to land his dream job, and that she sees the two of them together. Lily’s wants Oliver to go with him on a sporadic road trip and seize the chance of a lifetime, and he acquiesces after receiving some tragic personal news.
From there, the viewer is treated to a montage of Lily’s crazy behavior flying in the face of Oliver’s much more straight laced personality, and great shots of the couple enjoying their time together on the road and in San Francisco. All this is set to a decent soundtrack. Combined, this creates a weird sense of bliss and familiarity in the middle a frantic and strange relationship. The plot is advanced through improvisational dialogue, which borders on clever and sincere.
Casting Mary Kate Wiles as Lily is easily the most likeable thing about this film. As pointed out by characters in the film, Lily is a “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” and Wiles is completely believable. The most disappointing choice with this character was that her major flaw felt very out of place with the tone of the movie. A character like this should be hiding something, but the writer could have reined Lily’s big secret in a bit.
That brings me to Oliver himself (Whit Hertford). Sadly, Oliver is just not a very likable character, and Hertford doesn’t have the stage presence that makes you feel any empathy for him. Not to say that Hertford isn’t talented, he’s just not leading man material. Throughout my viewing of the film, I felt sure that the only reason he was cast in the lead was he had to have something to do with the creation of the movie, and I was not surprised when the credits rolled and found his name as the writer.
Also, he’s not a very attractive crier, which you see a bit of in this movie. Look, none of us look our best when crying, but Hertford should keep his emotions bottled up inside until he can get home and let it all out in private. Or at least not write crying into the roles that he is writing for himself.
I found the resolution of the film to be contrived and uninteresting. At one point, Oliver quickly comes up with the idea and name for a cartoon in front of a group of people who all laugh and applaud, but there is nothing the least bit funny about the idea. What was so disappointing about this is I am the type of audience should love the type of cartoon he is trying to create. That moment should have hit home for me, yet I think I’d pass on Oliver’s cartoon to watch an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force I’ve seen a half dozen times before.
My first thought was that this film was cheaply shot, but then it would cut to these stunning eye-popping outdoor shots. Was this a clever effect to contrast the real world and the dreamworld ? I’d like to hope so!
Presented in Dolby 5.1, I couldn’t find a volume setting where I was happy with being able to hear the characters clearly without being blasted away by the soundtrack. While sitting on the beach, Oliver and Lily’s dialogue is almost as clear as the sounds of the waves and the seagulls. The sound should have been mixed better.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The Blu-ray does include a number of interesting features. In addition to a trailer for the film, and commentary track by Hertford and director Ryan Darst. Also included is Reddit blogs from Oliver and Lily prior to their first meeting, an outtake reel, and three short films from Sneak Attack. The first film, Long Story Short is not only my favorite, but lead me to the idea that Nora Kirkpatrick was under utilized in the feature film.
This film just never found it’s stride for me. The attempts at jokes weren’t quite funny enough and I didn’t feel like the main characters had that much of a connection. The whole production felt self-indulgent. At the end of the viewing, there just wasn’t enough to take the interesting bits and string them together in an enjoyable way.
Overall (Not an Average) 6/10