Parents' Guide to

Dream Scenario

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Surreal, somewhat pessimistic comedy has strong violence.

Movie R 2023 102 minutes
Dream Scenario Movie Poster: Paul Matthews (Nicolas Cage) pauses while raking leaves and stares skyward

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Taking a page from Charlie Kaufman's bleak, surreal human-condition comedies, this movie sustains its interesting idea until the very end and benefits from Cage's fearless performance. Written and directed by Norwegian-born Kristoffer Borgli, Dream Scenario does things right by never explaining why this Paul Matthews/dream phenomenon is happening -- or what it's supposed to mean. We're left to experience the effects of it, to explore it, emotionally, without worrying about details.

It's not always an easy journey. Paul is as socially awkward as they come, always speaking too much when silence would be more effective or trying to assert himself at the wrong times and failing. He's also drastically insecure, taking nearly every small thing as a personal criticism. However, like Beau Is Afraid (whose director, Ari Aster, is a producer here), the movie isn't an attack on Paul himself, but rather a satire of the vain, fickle, unsympathetic world that made him. (The cynical epilogue supports this idea.) Yet by the end, Dream Scenario leaves viewers with the thought that, despite all of our faults, human connection is still the most precious thing there is.

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