Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

This may very well be a first.  First time director Jason Matzner has gone and made a feature film which takes place in a trailer park, and it isn’t a comedy.  No, ‘Dreamland’ is a winsome character study of teen angst, illness and inner demons set against the dry arid backdrop of a small New Mexico trailer park which calls itself Dreamland.


Agnes Bruckner is Audrey, a recent high school graduate and master poet who has gone to the trouble of applying to what appears to be every major college in the United States and subsequently has been accepted to them all, despite the fact she seems to have no intention of going to any of them.  Agnes seems to be held down by the loved ones in her life, such as her father Henry (John Corbett) who became agoraphobic soon after death of his wife and copes with his affliction and grief with liquor and maryjane.  There is also her best friend Cindy (Kelli Garner), who decided to give herself the pornographically wonderful name of Callista Bliss, as she thinks this will assist her in her dream to eventually become Miss America.  Callista is also afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis and leans heavily on Audrey for support.  Audrey works at the quick mart with wannabe bohemian Abraham (Brian Klugman) whom Audrey likes to experiment sexually with, which is something the girls didn’t do much of when I was just out of high school.  Or perhaps they did, they just weren’t interested in experimenting with me.  Some kind of way, it always circles back to ME. 


When a new family moves into the park, Audrey is immediately smitten by the young, basketball parable spouting Mookie (Justin Long) who is rehabbing his knee in hopes

of getting himself a nice basketball tryout at the local U.  Now just a bit of a problem here.  Basketball is a unique sport in that you can tell within about 3 seconds of somebody simply holding a basketball whether or not they have a grip on the game.  For instance, if you pass me a basketball, then watch me pivot and fire a J, you could tell that this is something I’ve done before on numerous occasions.  I have a beautiful jump shot, though I may only sink about 8% of my attempts, my form is flawless.  I could also regale you with tales of my college basketball days and reel off scoring averages, but that would just be me talking about me again.  My point is that Justin Long, though he’s a fine young actor (well, not so young, just young looking), ain’t getting no college scholarship for basketball.  Somebody should have taught the boy how to shoot a proper jump shot before rolling tape.  George Clooney perhaps, who has a very nice jump shot.  Movies are about selling the illusion.  In the tele-movie about late Loyola Marymount basketball player Hank Gathers, the producers cast two guys who have obviously never been on a basketball court in their lives.  Just because they’re black doesn’t mean they can play and thus the illusion was destroyed even before it could be established.  In ‘New Jack City’ Carl Payne and Wesley Snipes were supposed to be neighborhood basketball legends and they have this scene on the court.  Carl Payne is a fine hoopster, and it showed when he took a shot, whereas Wesley apparently had never held a basketball in his life and thus when he took his jumper, he looked like an idiot and the illusion was destroyed.  I know, what about ‘White Man Can’t Jump’?  Well sir, they took the time to train Mr. Snipes, who already had the athletic ability, just needed a little skill.  Whereas Woody Harrelson needed no training as the man actually turned down a basketball scholarship to LSU to pursue acting.  This long diatribe probably should been in an article by itself, but whattayagonnado.


Though Audrey is smitten by Mookie she inexplicably turns him on to Callista and the two hit it off quite well, though Audrey keeps falling deeper and deeper for the boy.  I should also mention that Kelli Garner is quite busty and her breast tend to dominate every scene she is in.  Just though I toss that in there.  Soon Audrey is simply overwhelmed by the responsibilities in her young life and start to completely unravel and she starts behaving in ways only an eighteen year-old would in an effort to find what the hell she is supposed to do with her life.


Jason Matzner certainly has a career as a film director with his deft and seamless handling of his camera, and his cinematographer, Jonathan Sela was certainly on his game as he practically made a New Mexico trailer park look like a little slice of heaven.  The performances are fine, particularly John Corbett who gives a real breezy turn as the screwed up father who still loves his little girl above all.  There was truly nothing wrong with ‘Dreamland’ in tone, narrative, look, performance… But I will say it’s an acquired taste of a film that could only be recommended to people who enjoy these small, somewhat inconsequential independent character study type films.  Anyone who is interested in the art of film should probably make it a point to see ‘Dreamland’, however I’m not sure it’s audience extends beyond that.

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