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Rated 10% or Less: “Dream a Little Dream” (1989)

I don’t know what’s more surprising: that “Dream a Little Dream” exists or that a sequel was made 6 years later after everyone was way too old to be reprising their roles. Yes, someone watched this movie and thought, “More! We need MORE of THIS!” Which at the best, shows how prominent coke was in Hollywood in the 80s, but at worst, proves that everyone makes bad, irreversible decisions. “Dream a Little Dream” pushes the limits of 80s filmmaking, which is saying a lot considering things like “Cop Rock” featuring songs titled “Baby Merchant” and Tom Hanks rapping on the soundtrack of “Dragnet” existed in that same era. Yes, all of those things are very real and shouldn’t be, and somehow this film stands out as being one of the most unintelligible and incomprehensible movie watching experiences to date.

To quote on of my all time favorite reviewers Bob Chipman– “Movies….are….WEIRD” and “Dream a Little Dream” tests that statement to its absolute max in all of the worst ways.

As is the case with most of the films that have misfortune of making the 10% or Less list, the most difficult part of reviewing the film (aside from having to sit and watch them) is trying to articulate what the film is about. “Dream a Little Dream” commits all of the common mistakes that a majority of these films do; running on the fallacy that every idea is a good idea and editing and script passes are for the weak. The film is more of a convoluted collection of other, better ones, grasping at straws to try and make them all work together in a single film and failing miserably. It’s part “Big,” part “Freaky Friday,” part John Hughes coming of age story, and even part “Back to the Future.” It doesn’t do any of these films justice, whisking from scene to scene and movie to movie without any real care or concern for the actual movie they’re trying to make.

I don’t think I could legitimately tell you what this film is actually about. Every scene is disjointed and disconnected from the previous one, and every scene never does anything to tell us what’s happening in the next one. It’s as if it keeps restarting itself with every edit. Even if I gave you basic outline, there’s so much going at any given time that only muddles the narrative more and more, so much so that whatever I summarized previously doesn’t really cover it all.

Dream a little Dream” is number 3 out of 7 films dubbed “The Two Coreys,” with the sequel (still can’t believe that exists) being number 7. It stars Corey Feldman and Corey Haim, and while they’re chemistry is the undeniable catalyst for why this film was brought to life and the only enjoyable parts of the film itself, it is most certainly not enough to make it watchable. Legendary actor Jason Robards (“All the Presidents Men,” “Parenthood,” and “Magnolia“) is clearly slumming it here at a time where it really doesn’t seem necessary. Thank god he doesn’t return for the sequel, because an actor with the gravitas and resume of Robards is truly wasted here. Additionally, as charming as Haim and Feldman are together, the film is more concerned with keeping them apart, placing Feldman’s Bobby front and center as the main protagonist with Haim’s Dinger being little more than a filler character with very little to do. For a film shipped as Two Coreys vehicle, you could delete one of them entirely from it, and movie wouldn’t change at all.

Look, I’m all for giving films in the 80s a pass for a lot of their downright drug fueled, otherworldly ideas that somehow made it to the big screen. It was a strange time for film, jam packed with experimental ideas and an “anything goes” approach to filmmaking. Unfortunately, that includes mistakes like “Dream a Little Dream,” something that feels much more like a film student’s montage of their favorite films from that era. Writer and Director Marc Rocco (“Murder in the First” which I actually enjoy) seems to have this kind of approach, picking and choosing highlights from his collection and forgetting to make his own film first. Whatever remains unique to “Dream a Little Dream” is explained in more of an indifferent “dreams, amirite?” rather than any kind of theme or through-line to make anything happening make the slightest bit of sense.

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Of course, we have to ask the big question to arrive at our final verdict: “Is Dream a Little Dream” fixable enough get it off the 0% on Rotten Tomatoes? Or is it an unmitigated disaster, deserving of its unwatchable percentage? The answer is yes and no.

Yes, “Dream a Little Dream” is fixable, but no because any fix would change the very fabric of the film itself. The problem with having so many ideas crammed into one film that are loosely connected by unexplainable dream phenomenon is that we are unable to narrow it to down to one idea that could fix all the others. I could say to just make it a Freaky Friday film, which would probably make the most sense overall and give both Coreys more to do together. But that doesn’t fix the 5 or 6 other films baked into this one, and changes it to become unrecognizable. Hell, if you did that you wouldn’t even be able to call it “Dream a Little Dream” anymore.

So, does “Dream a Little Dream” deserve its 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes? No. However, it’s doesn’t deserve more than 10% either, so it justifiably makes its case to be on the list for this series, and in the end deserves to be here.

I don’t know that “Dream a Little Dream” is the worst of the worst, but it’s definitely not good, and doesn’t make a case for redemption. Just dream that you saw it so you don’t actually have to. You can thank me later.

Rating: Deserves It

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