Dreamscape (1984) — Dennis Quaid saves the President from nightmares

“In this world, Alex, you’re nothing. And me, I’m God.”

Justin’s rating: I’d rather take a nap

Justin’s review: There’s nothing more infuriating to a moviegoer than to fall victim to deceptive marketing. We’ve all been there, especially when a movie trailer makes us think that this is going to be the most amazing experience ever — and it ends up a dud. So I can imagine that there were a lot of teed-off folks who saw this poster for Dreamscape:

And then they showed up in the theaters expecting some sort of Indiana Jones-like experience, only to get a somewhat eerie drama about a guy who can dive into dreams.

So someone is trying to attack the President in his sleep with super-scary dreams, which is apparently a situation with which the Secret Service is ill prepared to address. Instead, the government turns to a powerful psychic, Alex Gardner (Dennis Quaid), to be their first line of defense. Alex is initially reluctant to join up, but Doctors Jane DeVries (Kate Crapshaw) and Doctor Paul Novotny (Max von Sydow) convinces him that it’s for the greater good.

DeVries and Novotny are part of a project to insert psychics into other people’s dreams — which is something that secretly evil Bob Blair (Christopher Plummer) can also do. Bob’s intention is to kill the President with a nightmare-induced heart attack, and Alex is going to have to master dream surfing to be able to save the free world.

Movies about dream investigations pop up every once in a while — The Cell and Inception among the most notable — and I usually feel middle-of-the-road about them. While there’s a scifi angle here and the near-infinite possibilities for wacky dream settings, the whole concept seems a bit tenuous. After all, your dreams are always of great importance to you, but do you really care about other people’s nighttime excursions when they try to convey how amazing they were? No, I thought not.

While the confrontation between Alex and Bob is destined to arrive before the end credits, we have to endure a whole lot of Alex training be a dreamstronaut or a dream-linker or some such nonsense. He jumps into a construction worker’s worst day at the job, a little kid haunted by a snake man, and his up-and-coming girlfriend’s makeout train.

Dreamscape may have a couple of mildly intriguing ideas — and George Wendt, why  not — but it was kind of a snoozefest in the vein of Flatliners. It certainly doesn’t live up to its poster, and that doesn’t sit right with me.

Dida notice?

  • The freaky opening nuclear explosion sequence
  • It’s not an ’80s movie without a saxophone
  • This soundtrack is just terrible
  • “Never” became “right now” awfully fast
  • Zombie attack
  • There’s a fun color theme for each dream
  • “In front of the children!” and golf buddies

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