Dream Scenario Review – IGN

Dream Scenario opens in theaters November 10. This review is based on a screening at Fantastic Fest 2023.

Nicolas Cage Shines in Dream Scenario

Nicolas Cage, the beloved internet meme, showcases his acting talents in the new film, Dream Scenario. Despite rumors of Adam Sandler’s involvement, Cage proves to be the perfect choice for the lead role of Paul Matthews. In this Norwegian film directed by Kristoffer Borgli, Paul is not initially a famous actor. Instead, he is a regular professor who suddenly finds himself appearing in other people’s dreams, catapulting him into the spotlight.

Borgli, known for his previous work Sick of Myself, delves into the absurdities of fame and notoriety in the era of social media. Paul becomes famous without even trying, as he is merely a bystander in most of these dreams. However, he is forced to navigate the roller coaster of adulation and condemnation, transforming from a viral celebrity to an international outcast due to his presence in the collective subconscious, despite having no control over it.

Dream Scenario Gallery

This film also satirizes “cancel culture” by exploring the notion that perceived harm is equivalent to actual violence. Paul becomes an imperfect representation of cancelled individuals. Normally, when someone faces social consequences, they have said or done something to warrant the backlash. However, Paul’s only sin is his enjoyment of the attention he receives. This leads to a deeper commentary on male mediocrity, intellectual vanity, and the underlying resentment that often accompanies them.

The film’s most scathing critique is reserved for the marketing firm that hires Paul to insert Sprite ads into people’s dreams, as well as the “dreamfluencers” who exploit the phenomenon for financial gain. The first half of Dream Scenario showcases Borgli’s excellent screenwriting, delivering cutting satire while accurately mirroring real-life conversations. However, the film struggles to navigate the surplus of ideas in its bifurcated ending.

Deadpan Cringe Comedy

Aside from a few jokes about bodily functions, Dream Scenario primarily employs deadpan cringe comedy. The supporting cast, including Tim Meadows, Michael Cera, Kate Berlant, Dylan Gelula, and Nicholas Braun, deliver the humor with virtuosic skill. Julianne Nicholson portrays Paul’s wife, Janet Matthews, whose reputation and career suffer as a result of her association with her husband. Other cast members, such as Lily Bird and Jessica Clement, play Paul’s daughters, further highlighting what he has to lose.

Borgli’s filmmaking brings Dream Scenario to life by immersing the audience in a recognizable depiction of upper-middle-class East Coast academia. As the film progresses, the surreal nightmare elements escalate, transitioning from clearly defined dream sequences to the “real world.” Cage’s performance as Paul reflects this progression, with his whiny, hunched demeanor and dazed expression as he traverses the dreams of others.

Paultergeist: The Reality of Boogeymen

The film emphasizes that the seemingly terrifying figures we create in our minds are rarely as menacing when confronted in reality. Dream Scenario provocatively presents a level of sympathy, albeit mixed with withering disregard, for these individuals.