Little Nemo: Adventures In Slumberland (Japan 1989)

Rating: **
Review Date: 8/9/17

An ambitious animated fantasy film that languished in production hell for a decade before the final version was released. Early attempts involved George Lucas, Chuck Jones, and Hayao Miyazaki, but all of them left due to creative differences. Later contributors included Moebius, Brad Bird, Chris Columbus, Brian Froud, and Ray Bradbury. The finished product is a splendid piece of animation, but the story structure is too loose and the characters are weak and unappealing. This may have more to do with the bizarre source material, which is surreal and often times incomprehensible, much like Lewis Carroll's "Alice In Wonderland."

In the film, Nemo is a young boy who is whisked away to Slumberland to serve as Princess Camille's playmate. King Morpheus gives him the key to the city for safe keeping, with a grave warning not to use it. Unfortunately, a mischievous troublemaker named Flip convinces Nemo to use the key, which unleashes the Nightmare King and dooms Slumberland to annihilation. Owning up to his mistake, he summons up his courage to rescue King Morpheus with the help of his friends. While the fantasy and adventure elements may appeal to younger viewers, I found it plodding and uninteresting. The English voice acting is a bit flat, and the whole thing feels stale and uninspired. Perhaps the whimsical and nonsensical nature of the source material is too outdated to adapt to conventional storytelling in a satisfactory fashion.