- Directed by Marc Rocco
- March 3, 1989
A dream researcher finds himself in the body of a teenager and now must figure out how to get back.
I was a little surprised by the quality of Dream a Little Dream. It’s a late 80s film starring the two Coreys and I expected it to be much more of a vehicle for them than actual story. Instead I found some interesting themes and weighty subject matter that only really focused on one of the duo with Haim taking a very supporting role here.
What we get here is a film with two themes. The first is to appreciate what you already have in your life. Our central character of Coleman Ettinger (Jason Robards at the start) is an older gentleman who has lived a good life but has some vaguely defined theory on using dreams to body hop in order to extend his life with his wife. Do not think about the moral implications of taking over someone else’s body/life. We are not here for anything that deep.
The other is to go after what matters. In this case it is true love. Coleman in his quest has managed to lose his wife in the body of Lainie Diamond (Meredith Salenger) whom Bobby Keller (Corey Feldman)-the boy Coleman finds himself inhabiting-has fallen in love with. Little bits of Coleman’s wife Gena (Piper Laurie) come to the surface during the story.
Then there are the heavier elements. Bobby has parents (Alex Rocco and Victoria Jackson) who don’t listen to him, and it borders on neglect. Lainie has a mother (Susan Blakely) who is a pill popping drinker that could care less about her as she’s too wrapped up in being bitter about her divorce. Worse she seems more than okay with her daughter staying with the abusive and possessive Joel (William McNamara). Is it any wonder her son went to live with her ex-husband?
Aside from abuse, we also have teen alcoholism with Joel. He has a flask that appears to be on him at all times-even school. That is some pretty serious stuff for a film that on the surface looks like a straight up fantasy. Dream a Little Dream manages to take some serious issues and place them in a context of then modern teens. In that it says a modern adult could not necessarily live as today’s teenagers. It does none of this in a heavy-handed manner. This is just their life.
We got a great deal of Robards’s character in the beginning but not that much of the Feldman’s character and maybe that’s part of the problem. Feldman’s character needed to be expanded more before Robards hopped into the body. The portrayal of the two characters needed to differentiate enough so that at the minimum you saw that Robards was now inhabiting the body which in the end did not come across all that well.
Bobby’s ending felt a bit undeserved. During the film he was being difficult and trying to stay in the limbo of Coleman’s mind. There was no path for him to learn a lesson so to become a better person and end up with the girl. Give him an arc to go through.
The acting is not bad and the execution of the idea ultimately helps me get past any issues I have with the story. The story manages to hit most of the right notes in drama and romance even if it doesn’t get the body switching part quite right.
One of the saving graces of this film is that it has a great 1980s soundtrack. It’s one great song after another done in the style that was popular of the time. Some of them are hits and some of them are covers of hits but they’re all good. The music will take you back.
Dream a Little Dream is an interesting tidbit from the late 80s. While not perfect, it is an enjoyable to film. I think you should give this a look. You will enjoy it.