Spoilers want a pig plushie NOW.
Using a known intellectual property to create another is not new. Spinoffs often shed new light on classic characters. This is not to say they always work. Sometimes the new property is better off being its own thing that trying to capitalize on known characters. This particular feature did both, acknowledging the original adventures in a way that it feels like this new story grows organically out of the original one. That way, you don’t necessarily feel obligated to know the original material but you can perceive a few nods to it. I think it works.
Slumberland (2022) is directed by Francis Lawrence based on the screenplay by David Guion and Michael Handelman. This is a spinoff/remake/sequel that employs the characters and world from the newspaper comic strip “Little Nemo in Slumberland” by Winsor McCay. Young Nemo (Marlow Barkley) has lost her father Peter (Kyle Chandler), a lighthouse keeper. She must leave the safety and warmth of her isolated life to go live with her uncle Philip (Chris O’Dowd), a quiet introvert man. Nemo dreams back of her life on the lighthouse and enchanted worlds where she meets the reckless Flip (Jason Momoa) and embarks on a quest to see her father again in the dream world of Slumberland.
I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. I am barely familiar with the original IP, only enough to remember the bed with legs and Nemo originally being a boy. However I am of the mindset that adaptations can take as much liberties as they want as long as the entertainment value is solid. You know, the resulting product might adolesce from Disney-like over-cute production factor, but the result is crisp and sharp. You can see some beats and plot points coming miles away but the execution is never forced. Even the slow moments have some sort of hook.
I found myself interested into the lives of all the cast. I missed Peter once he was gone. I felt sad for Nemo’s plight. I smiled with Flip’s crazy shenanigans. I specially empathized with Philip’s social anxiety as he steps out of his comfort zone and feels incredibly out of place trying to engage with the younger generation. Thank God they didn’t just made Philip into a stereotypical adult villain. The CGI is fun and impressive and there’s a lot of fun characters and scenarios to enjoy in Slumberland but the real world outside had its own personality as well. Performance wise, Marlow Barkley holds her own with Jason Momoa and Chris O’Dowd, which is impressive for a young performer.
Highly recommended for a pure entertainment value. The plot is transparent and chances are you will not be surprised by the outcome. The world building is well done but whether the story breaks its own rules for the benefit of drama didn’t really come up. It has a sharp execution and strong character engagement. I was invested even when I knew where the story was going. Very much worth a watch. Oink.
That will do for now.