Nicolas Cage is not an actor who is easily pigeon-holed. From comedies like Valley Girl and Raising Arizona to romantic leads like Moonstruck to scenery-chewing flicks like Con Air, to award winning roles in dramas like Leaving Las Vegas (for which he won and Oscar), he’s made a TON of movies, in a lot of genres, some big hits and a lot I’m sure he’d like to forget. I loved him in the odd little 2021 film Pig, which brought him a lot of awards season love. And Dream Scenario may just do that again. It’s a very odd satirical comedy and he’s great in it.
The film in a nutshell goes like this: Paul Matthews is a college professor. He has a couple of daughters and a loving wife. And life is okay. But suddenly he starts to pop up in strangers’ dreams. And he becomes a reluctant celebrity. He gets invited to go on talk shows and people fawn all over him when he’s out and about. But then things take a dark turn. Instead of just being there in the dreams like he was at the beginning, he becomes a part of the stories. With one woman it is a welcomed sexual encounter, but with way too many others it is a violent nightmare. And he becomes a pariah, with people unable to separate the real man from the one in their dreams. And his life goes down the drain.
I kept thinking of the 1999 film Being John Malkovich as well as several other surreal films written by Charlie Kaufman, where things happen that should not be possible, but you just have to accept it as the world you’re watching. Cage’s Paul is a 21st century everyman thrown into a scenario beyond his control. He becomes famous for doing nothing. He’s cancelled for making people uncomfortable. A PR company headed by Trent (Michael Cera) wants to capitalize on it all and introduce brands into his dream presence. And he just wants to write a book about ants.
Cage turns in an outstanding performance, at times hilarious and frequently utterly befuddled and increasingly angry at what is happening to him. The script is smart and funny and entirely absurd, though the last third loses a bit of the that tone. I highly recommend this one.
In theaters now.