Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I’m going to try to look for a movie in which actor Christopher Plummer is a young guy. Obviously since he was born in 1929, which makes him slightly younger than my grandparents, he’s been old my whole life. ‘Dreamscape’ is a twenty four year old movie and he was old in that. The first movie I recall seeing this rather fine actor in was ‘The Return of the Pink Panther’ and he was old in that too. I guess I could say the same for Max Von Sydow who is just as old as Christopher Plummer, and just like Plummer is still tirelessly working his ass off. Look at them old dudes go. I remember ‘Dreamscape’ when it came out back in 1984 as I think it was the last movie that my father took me to. He’s not dead or anything, it’s just that I was around fourteen and was about past the age of needing my dad to take me places. I also remember enjoying ‘Dreamscape’ quite a bit. Now thanks to magic of DVD, and now with my own child who isn’t quite past the age of needing his dad to take him places we slip in the DVD of ‘Dreamscape’ to see how well it plays in 2008. And hope to avoid another ‘Weird Science’ situation. If I haven’t told you, I pulled up ‘Weird Science’ on one of those free cable On Demand channels, as I also fondly remembered that movie as a kid and decided to watch it with my young son. I forgot, however, about all the profanity, nudity, and overt sexual situations… Anthony Michael Hall in the scene where he’s a drunk teen at the Jazz club talking about the girl with the ‘big titties’ for instance, was in that movie. I could have shut it off but it was too late. I suck as a parent. Whadayagonnado.

Dennis Quaid, who about I’m sure my son will one day say ‘Geez, has this dude ever been young?’, is Alex Gardner, a young man with a psychic gift that he’s grown quite weary of as it has done nothing but make him a test tube rat for the majority of his existence. Now out in the world Alex is exercising his gifts by ripping off race tracks

and trying to stay ahead of the heavies who don’t like being ripped off by psychics predicting races. Alex’s old mentor, Dr. Paul Novotny (Sydow) has been working closely with his lovely assistant Dr. Jane DeVries (Kate Capshaw) to develop this new government funded technology which is utilizing people with psychic gifts and sending them into the dreams of troubled people to help cure them of various mental illnesses and Dr. Novotny tracks down Alex to join his team. Alex reluctantly agrees to come aboard but has second thoughts after witnessing another member of the team enter a boy’s dream who is having horrific nightmares and watching the man exit the dream a brain dead vegetable. Undaunted Alex picks up where his brain dead colleague left off, and though it wasn’t a hell of a lot of fun (Giant Ass Man Snake), he succeeded in curing the boy from his ailment.

All seems good and fine but Washington D.C. heavyweight Bob Blair (Plummer) has other more nefarious plans for this technology and has his enlisted his own crazed psycho member of the team in Tommy Ray (David Patrick Kelly – Arnold let him go- remember?) who has managed to actually kill an individual while putzing around their in a dream states. Blair, as it so happens, is quite unhappy with the weak liberal minded president (Edward Albert) and his reluctance to proliferate weapons of Mass Destruction and has decided that he needs to die in his sleep and has dispatched his dreamy hitman to carry out the deed, but Alex and sexy Dr. Jane get wind of this plan and aren’t about to let that happen. The battlefield is now in the dreams of the President of the United States as Alex and Tommy Ray do battle with the fate of the country in the balance.

I recall enjoying this film immensely back in 1984, and though you can take one look at the hugeness of Kat Capshaw’s hair to tell this film is a bit dated, it’s still pretty entertaining and fun, if not a somewhat campy thriller. Dennis Quaid is in fine form with his trademark grin in full effect, and who could ever forget Quaid’s Alex invading Dr. Jane’s dreams for a little uninvited undercover fun. Oh what a naughty gift that would be. The special effects wouldn’t impress today’s CGI jaded audiences, and quite honestly I don’t think they impressed that much back in ’84 either as they were quite cheesy, but they were certainly in line with the overall tome of the film. Outside of the core subject matter of this film which is fairly unique, ‘Dreamscape’ is pretty much a paint by numbers thriller with prerequisite chase scenes, a classic setup of good versus evil and big showdown to close out the show, but director Joseph Rubin kept the story humming right along and even for an aging movie that’s coming up on it’s silver anniversary, it succeeds in its number one goal, and that is to keep me entertained.

It’s a bit odd that in the copycat world of Hollywood with the relatively timeless subject matter of dreams, since we all still dream as far as I know, that this film, which was marginally successful back in the day, hasn’t been remade. It’s probably just a matter of time of course and heaven knows I don’t want to see a remake, but it’s still odd to me.

Hell, Dennis Quaid can’t be too busy and I’m sure we could pry Kate away from her husband, Steven Spielberg, for a couple of months to update this story. Kate could probably convince Steve to produce and then hire a first time director, I don’t know, myself comes to mind, to direct this masterpiece. And though Plummer and Sydow did meet unfortunate ends in this flick, we might as well dust off those two tireless 80 year old acting wonders and fire up the eighties machine for unwanted sequel. I’m in guys, what about y’all?

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