Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 10, 2007)
Maybe someday I’ll understand how “The Coreys” – Messrs. Haim and Feldman – ever became teen idols in the late Eighties and early Nineties, but it won’t be today. At least not based on the evidence of 1989’s Dream a Little Dream, a thoroughly dreadful piece of schlock. We meet best buddies Bobby Keller (Feldman) and “Dinger” (Haim). We quickly learn that Bobby maintains a crush on high school hottie Lainie Diamond (Meredith Salenger). The problem? She dates Joel (William McNamara), a friend of Bobby’s.
We also meet local coot Coleman Ettinger (Jason Robards). He hopes to discover a connection between dreams and reality as he tries to establish a better way into the fantasy world. This leads him to various experiments that involve his wife Gena (Piper Laurie).
Both stories intersect when Coleman and Gena enact one of these activities on their front lawn. Both Bobby and Lainie happen to run through Coleman’s yard at exactly the same time – and they slam into each other. This leads to a freaky supernatural occurrence in which Coleman’s consciousness enters Bobby’s body. The movie follows all the complications that result.
If you want to find DVD packaging that misrepresents a movie’s story, look no further than the case for Dream. It uses a quote from Dinger to tell us the plot. He tells us that “my best friend Bobby is totally cool. We hang together, go to the same school, and think rock ‘n’ roll’s rad. Bobby’s kind of a dreamer. Now he’s stuck on some dreamboat named Lainie. She’s pretty hot, I guess, but doesn’t know he exists. Bobby’s got just three days to convince Lainie that she loves him, even though she already does but doesn’t know it yet. This whole thing is just too weird – but I’m sticking around to see what happens.”
If you squint really hard, you can see the flick’s actual plot buried in that “quote”. However, the synopsis poorly summarizes what one can actually expect from Dream, which is essentially nothing more than a really bad mix of Freaky Friday and John Hughes.
Dream hit screens at the tail end of the Great Body-Swap Rush of the 1980s. These flicks essentially reworked the original 1976 Freaky, and usually failed to reinvigorate that formula. 1988 produced three of these efforts. 18 Again and Vice Versa pretty much stunk, but Big managed to become something special and memorable.
Unfortunately, Dream can’t claim either of those appraisals. “Idiotic”, “absurd” and “disjointed” make more sense for the barely coherent Dream, a terrible mishmash of elements. The first act seems particularly flawed. The film throws out its dual stories in an incredibly awkward way and doesn’t mesh them at all. The editing causes rough jumps and immediately puts us off of the story – whatever story it thinks it offers, at least.
Once Coleman ends up in Bobby’s body, the plot starts to make more sense, but just barely so. At least the story goes down one particular path and doesn’t flip between disconnected concepts. If it managed to turn into anything vaguely interesting, that would make it more compelling, of course. Instead, it just gives us the usual fish out of water nonsense without any life or vivacity behind it.
I won’t call The Coreys talentless. Neither ever boasted a great amount of skill, but they did okay as dorky kids. That doesn’t mean they could carry movies as lead actors, though, and Feldman seems particularly unable to shoulder the load. He’s a void as our protagonist. He’s never funny, charming or even remotely convincing as Bobby/Coleman, and he leaves us even more detached from the story. Add to that a scene in which he’s supposed to impress us with his Michael Jackson moves and the movie makes many a jaw drop.
Dream manages to waste a pretty decent supporting cast. We get professionals like Robards, Laurie and Harry Dean Stanton. Of course, the flick completely trashes whatever they might bring to the flick. They get little to do and look vaguely embarrassed when they do appear.
I think Dream deserves particular notice for its terrible use of music. It incorporates a mix of pop tunes that fail to connect with the movie in any remote way. They seem gratuitous attempts to generate a hit soundtrack release. I don’t suppose they really hurt the movie - it’s already beyond redemption – but the music still causes problems.
To my amazement, Dream gets even worse during its end credits. We see poor Robards stuck doing a bizarre dance duet with Feldman. Corey again trots out his best Michael Jackson impersonation in an attempt to dazzle us. Only nausea results.
Dream has two things going for it: Salenger’s enormous breasts. If we actually got to see them in all their unfurled glory, the movie might deserve a look. Unfortunately, they stay covered, and Dream remains completely, utterly, absolutely unwatchable from start to finish.