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Dream Scenario

Dream Scenario

2023

In this hilarious and unsettling comedy-horror, Nicolas Cage's hapless everyman Paul Matthews becomes an unwitting celebrity when he appears in the dreams of millions. As his nocturnal visits take a darkly comedic turn, Paul must confront the surreal consequences of being everyone's subconscious star.

Runtime: 1 h 42 m

Box Office: $686K

Language:

By:

Directors:

Genres:

Ratings:

Metacritic

74

Metascore

tbd

User Score

Metacritic

7.3 /10

IMDb Rating

Metacritic

67.0

%

User Score

Check out what happened in Dream Scenario!

As the Matthews family's backyard awakens to a tranquil morning, the youngest sibling Sophie (Lily Bird) embarks on a surreal journey. Her eyes flutter open to reveal a dream world where her father, Paul (Nicolas Cage), is effortlessly lounging by the poolside. The surrounding environment begins to defy gravity, floating upwards as if magnetized to the clouds, before Sophie's subconscious snaps back into reality.

Paul, a mild-mannered biology professor, navigates his waking life with ease. Married to Janet (Julianne Nicholson), he shares a harmonious domesticity with their two daughters, Hannah (Jessica Clement) and Sophie. His academic pursuits are punctuated by encounters with former colleague Sheila (Paula Boudreau), who seeks his input on an article that has sparked controversy. As Paul records their conversation in the hopes of garnering recognition for his own ideas, he is met with silence.

The Matthews family's evening takes a turn when they attend a play, where they run into Claire (Marnie McPhail), an ex-girlfriend of Paul's. Her candid admission that Paul has been recurring in her dreams, though devoid of romantic undertones, leaves the couple perplexed. Later, Claire approaches Paul privately to propose writing about their shared nocturnal experiences, which he agrees to.

As the days unfold, a peculiar phenomenon begins to manifest itself. Friends and acquaintances, including Richard (Dylan Baker) and Carlota (Krista Bridges), start sharing their own dreams featuring Paul as an observer. His online presence is hijacked when Claire attaches his Facebook profile link to her article, unleashing a tidal wave of messages from people claiming to have dreamt about him. In the midst of this chaos, Paul seeks insight from his students, who uniformly confess to having had dreams involving him.

As the truth begins to reveal itself, Paul is disheartened to discover that he is merely an unwitting participant in other people's subconscious experiences. His conversations with Janet take on a new tone as he probes her about her own nocturnal adventures. When she reveals a desire to see him save her while dressed in an oversized suit à la David Byrne of Talking Heads, Paul sets out to fulfill this wish, setting the stage for a fantastical and introspective journey into the realms of dreams.

As night descends, a troubled individual breaks into the Matthews' residence, issuing a chilling ultimatum: harm Paul or face the consequences. The authorities intervene, and Paul is left grappling with the aftermath. Seeking to capitalize on his newfound notoriety, he turns to a prestigious public relations firm, where he meets Trent (Michael Cera), Mary (Kate Berlant), and Molly (Dylan Gelula). Trent pitches Paul as the ideal spokesperson for Sprite, but our protagonist has more pressing goals - using his exposure to promote his book. However, his aspirations are put on hold when Molly invites him out for a drink, and he mistakenly assumes Janet is elsewhere with someone else, leading him to accept her offer.

The evening takes an unexpected turn as Molly confesses that her dreams have been filled with vivid, passionate encounters between the two of them. Initially taken aback, Paul finds himself drawn into the fantasy, only to be rudely awakened by a sudden and embarrassing fart followed by premature ejaculation. Ashamed, he beats a hasty retreat. Back at home, Paul's ire is inflamed when he discovers that Sheila has published her article without giving him due credit.

As the days unfold, Sophie begins experiencing nightmarish visions of her father stalking into her room with an unsettling grin, leaving her feeling disturbed and on edge. Meanwhile, some of Paul's students are haunted by terrifying dreams in which they're subjected to violence, assault, or murder at his hands, prompting them to avoid him altogether. The staff tries to intervene, but the damage is done; one student takes it upon themselves to vandalize Paul's car with a cruel message, sparking an outburst that only serves to further isolate him. He's eventually placed on extended leave.

As the nightmare spreads, everyone around Paul begins experiencing unsettling visions involving him - from Carlota's inability to host her dinner parties without feeling uneasy to Richard's decision to send them packing. Even his evening at a local diner takes a dark turn when he's told that his presence is making others uncomfortable, prompting a patron to try and get rid of him by spitting in his food. The confrontation escalates into a physical altercation, leaving Paul with a black eye and bloody nose.

As tensions reach a boiling point, Sophie's teacher, Kayla (Jennifer Wigmore), informs Paul that he's no longer welcome at her student's upcoming play, due to the widespread unease surrounding him. As the walls close in, it becomes clear that Paul is not only struggling with his own personal demons but also facing the harsh reality of being ostracized by those around him.

As the nightmares continue to ravage his family's lives, Paul's loved ones are forced to bear the brunt of his tormented psyche. Janet teeters on the brink of losing her job due to her marriage to this tortured soul, while Sophie becomes a target at school, with classmates taunting her father as the infamous Freddy Krueger. The pleas for a public apology fall on deaf ears, as Paul's anger and refusal to confront his demons only exacerbate the problem. His world begins to unravel further when he finds himself stalked down a deserted street by a figure wielding a crossbow, the bolts piercing his skin twice before revealing its true nature: a manifestation of Paul's own deepest fears. This harrowing encounter prompts him to record a hasty apology video, but his words are perceived as weak and self-pitying by those around him.

As tensions simmer, Paul attempts to sneak into Sophie's school production, only to be thwarted by Kayla, who refuses to let him in. A heated struggle ensues, culminating in the door slamming shut on Kayla's pinky finger, now severed. Convinced of his malevolence, the parents stage an intervention, forcibly removing Paul from the school premises as Janet and their daughters watch in horror and shame.

In the aftermath, Paul initiates a divorce proceedings against Janet, opting to start anew while still harboring feelings for her. Sophie, however, remains desperate for her father's return, although Hannah continues to be too embarrassed to reconcile with him. As time passes, Paul is credited for his groundbreaking work on dream travel technology, which has the potential to revolutionize human connection. Tech mogul Brian Berg (Nicholas Braun) develops a device allowing people to traverse into anyone else's dreamscape, but it quickly falls prey to exploitation by social media influencers seeking to infiltrate and manipulate others' subconscious minds. Meanwhile, Paul becomes embroiled in controversy as some begin to believe he deliberately chose to terrorize others in their dreams.

Seeking redemption, Paul turns to Trent for guidance on rebuilding his image. He pens an autobiography in France, titling it "Dream Scenario," only to see it rebranded by publishers as "I Am Your Nightmare." The book receives lackluster reception and poor sales, leading to a struggling author tour in France. As he signs copies at a bookstore, a ceiling light suddenly crashes down, striking him on the head.

As Paul's fingers wrapped around the sleek contours of the dream-traveling device, a thrill of anticipation coursed through his veins. With a deep breath, he activated the machine and focused his thoughts on entering Janet's subconscious realm. The air seemed to shimmer as he materialized within her dreamscape, finding himself clad in the oversized suit she had once coveted. A sense of purpose propelled him forward as he strode towards the burning building, determined to rescue Janet from the clutches of fiery doom.

As they navigated the desolate streets, the moon casting an eerie glow over their figures, Paul and Janet strolled hand in hand, lost in a romantic reverie. The air was alive with possibility as they shared whispers of longing, Paul's words barely audible above the rustling leaves: "I wish this were reality." His voice carried on the wind like a promise, leaving Janet's eyes aglow with tender emotions.

And then, as if the very fabric of reality had been manipulated by the dream-traveling device, Paul began to defy gravity. He floated upward, his form blurring at the edges as he drifted effortlessly towards the star-studded sky. Below him, Janet's eyelids fluttered open, her gaze drifting into the morning light as the dream dissipated like mist in the sun.