Florida Film Festival: DREAMWORLD

By Samir Mathur
Contributing writer
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For all my Film Festival coverage, look for the tag FFF2012

DREAMWORLD plays in the 21st annual Florida Film Festival tonight at 9pm at Enzian and again on Thursday at Regal Winter Park Village (Details)

The first minute or so of 'Dreamworld' is a crazy animation, where the Loch Ness monster tries to befriend her (it's her, right?) fellow monsters. It's eye-catching and funny, and sadly it's one of the highlights of Ryan Darst's debut feature. Oliver (Whit Hertford, who also wrote and produced) is an aspiring animator in L.A., but after a disastrous pitch meeting, he's starting to think that maybe it's time to give up on that dream and just settle down. But then he meets Lily (Mary Kate Wiles), who has a friend that works for Pixar - Oliver's and every other animator's dream job - and suggests a road trip. It's pretty clear immediately that Lily is a textbook Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and later another character will even refer to her as such. Straight-laced if depressed dude goes on unexpected road adventure with stranger who may be crazy? That aspect of 'Dreamworld' reminded me a lot of its fellow Competition Narrative Feature 'The Brooklyn Brothers Beat The Best', which I wrote about here.

Anyway, they go on the road trip, and sad truths, surprising revelations and interesting other characters emerge, but the character of Lily is always so flaky and vague that I could never entirely get on her side, as Oliver quickly does. He puts all his (career) eggs in the basket of her help (the worst sentence I've ever written?) and I was just shaking my head and saying "No! Why!" Oliver falls for this girl, and I guess it's an interesting idea to consider the dream world versus reality, but for the most part this film just rubbed me the wrong way. The performances were great - Hertford has a great face for wounded sincerity - and there are a few cameos from familiar comedy faces like Nick Thune and Johnny Pemberton. Oh, and the design of the beginning and end credits were unusually eye-catching and exciting, so look out for those.