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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What's the story?
Based on Stephen King's book, DREAMCATCHER follows Beaver (Jason Lee), Henry (Thomas Jane), Jonesy (Damian Lewis), and Pete (Timothy Olyphant), boyhood friends who share a secret connection gradually revealed in flashbacks. A good deed resulted in their ESP-type powers. Every year, they go away together to a cabin in the woods. On this trip, strange things happen. The animals all leave the forest. A government helicopter calls down to tell them they are quarantined, and people begin appearing from the woods, disoriented and suffering from intense intestinal distress. Strange red patches appear on the faces of both, and then really strange things start to happen. It turns out that all of this is due to an alien invasion. Meanwhile, Colonel Kurtz (Morgan Freeman) and his team of special agents use extreme tactics to wipe out the alien threat.
Is it any good?
The film is a mishmash, but there's something in it to scare the bejeebers out of just about everyone. Be ready for yuckiness, gore, creepiness, intense peril, and good, old-fashioned jump-out-at-you surprises. Dreamcatcher isn't Stephen King's best book, and it's far from the best screenplay produced by either Lawrence Kasden or William Goldman. But the four main actors are all exceptionally appealing in this story, and the art direction and cinematography are top-notch. The film's weakest aspect is Kurtz's secret operation. Even the masterful Freeman can't quite make that character work, and the attempt to create a parallel between the peril created by the outside force and the peril from within does not work, either.
While parts of the plot are lackluster, as I watched this movie the audience reaction sounded like they were on a roller-coaster ride, a good sign in a scary movie. It's not a classic like Carrie or The Shining, but it is a nicely done scarefest, and achieves its modest ambitions.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about disabled people, and why some people go out of their way to pick on them while others appreciate their gifts. What made the four boys so loyal to each other? How do we know when a person like Kurtz has gone too far, and at that point, who can stop him? He makes a Jeremy Bentham-like argument that the ends justify the means. Under what circumstances is that the case?
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