Dreamland

Movie review by
Jordan Elizabeth, Common Sense Media
Dreamland Movie Poster Image
Dust Bowl fugitive drama has violence, sex, language.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 101 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Positive themes of perseverance and adventure are overshadowed by violence and manipulation.

Positive Role Models

Characters are highly independent, but the cost of their individualism is broken relationships and torn apart families. Eugene Evans follows his heart but is stereotypically blinded by his attraction to Allison Wells. And Allison, while strong-willed, shows little compassion or empathy for others. Racial diversity is limited to the character of Joe Garza, Eugene’s Indigenous friend.

Violence

Graphic bullet removal from open wounds. Gun violence resulting in death.

Sex

Prolonged male and female upper-body nudity, kissing, and touching.

Language

Frequent use of the words "bitch," "s--t," and "f--k."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Occasional cigarette and alcohol use by teens and adults. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dreamland follows Eugene Evans (Finn Cole), a Texas teen who helps a fugitive named Allison Wells (Margot Robbie), with whom Eugene is quickly enamored. Despite being an independent female character, Allison is portrayed as stereotypically bewitching and a bad influence on "innocent" Eugene. She abuses his admiration, using the possibility of sex to manipulate him into helping her. Violence includes graphic bullet removal and fatal gun use. Characters also swear ("f--k," "s--t," etc.), have sex (with partial nudity), drink, and smoke cigarettes. The movie's racial diversity is limited to the character of Joe Garza, Eugene’s Indigenous friend who abets him in small-town mischief. There's hinting about the genocide of Indigenous people when Joe mentions moving away, but the movie focuses more on the possibility of Eugene losing his friend.

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What's the story?

Set in 1930s Dust Bowl Texas, DREAMLAND centers on Eugene Evans (Finn Cole), a restless small-town teen who finds adventure by aiding and abetting a fugitive bank robber named Allison Wells (Margot Robbie). Caught between turning her in to collect the bounty and riding in the wake of her recklessness, Eugene chooses to help her escape to Mexico, double-crossing and abandoning his family in the process.

Is it any good?

While the anticipation of sex is enough to hold Eugene's attention in Dreamland, it may not be enough for some audiences. Cole plays a small town kid turned "bad boy" -- similar to his role as Michael Shelby in the dramatic series Peaky Blinders. Both Michael and Eugene betray and abandon their parents, siblings, and best friends in pursuit of adventure. And while Cole and Robbie are, individually, skilled actors, their chemistry together here falls somewhat flat. It doesn't help that Robbie, known for I, Tonya and Bombshell, plays yet another iteration of her "unlikeable hottie" role here.

Visuals of towering dust plumes and desert landscapes help make Dreamland watchable. And the movie delivers on themes you'd expect from a Western/fugitive romance -- betrayal, payback, and perseverance. It just doesn't do it with enough imagination or any modern twists.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether Allison Wells is a strong female character. Why, or why not? Do you consider her a role model?

  • What stereotypes, if any, did you notice in Allison and Eugene’s relationship?

  • Do you think the violence in Dreamland is glorified or realistic? What are (if any) the consequences to the characters' violent behavior?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

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