It is a movie about what goes on behind the scenes in the world of our dreams so how did we end up with such a twisted tale of jealously and bullying? Dreambuilders is not at all what I expected and while that meant I enjoyed this film more than I originally planned, it also meant that it wasn't exactly what I had in mind for my kids. This whimsical tale needed a bit more whimsy, but it is certainly packed with lessons for older children. Read my no-spoilers, parent review of Dreambuilders.
Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Dreambuilders free for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Dreambuilders | A No-Spoilers, Parent Review
Dreambuilders | Movie Synopsis
Minna’s life is turned upside-down when her dad’s new fiancée and her daughter move in. Her new stepsister, Jenny, turns out to be horrible and Minna is very frustrated. She wants her gone!
One night, Minna discovers a world behind her dreams, where the whimsical dreambuilders create every fantasy and nightmare we endure nightly on their theater stages!
Minna also finds out how to manipulate Jenny’s dreams. But interfering with dreams has dire consequences … and when Minna goes too far one night, Jenny can’t wake up anymore.
Minna must enter the dream world one more time to face the nightmare she has created in order to save Jenny and her new family.
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Dreambuilders | Review
Pixar's Inside Out walked so Dreambuilders could run.
Dreambuilders pulls back the curtain on how our dreams come to be, showing us that our dreams are scripted with props and sets that get played out on a theater-like stage. When we wake up we're none the wiser and go about our day until it is time for the dreambuilders to do it all over again that night.
Dreambuilders gave me Inside Out callbacks mainly to the scene with Bing Bong in the "Memory Dump".
Dreambuilders features "Dream Trash" where props and sets from dreams are dumped once the person wakes up. Both the Dream Trash and Memory Dump scenes are very dark in color, both areas features piles of what is believed to be garbage; no longer needed sets or forgotten memories and imaginary friends. Both are places no one wants to be and both are places our main characters find themselves having to overcome in some way.
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The plot of Dreambuilders has a surprising amount of complexity to it that younger audiences may not pick up on entirely. However, this film deals with real world issues in a very plate-able way; step families, bullying, and jealously that can certainly be used as conversation-starters with older children.
Mina and her father open their home to Jenny and her mom in hopes of becoming a family together; but Mina and Jenny have very little in common, at first glance.
Jenny is very into social media with nearly 1,000 followers she is constantly on her phone, sharing photos, checking for likes and wanting to be the next "it" girl. Mina on the other hand never seems to be on her phone and doesn't appear to care what is going on in the world of social media. It is Jenny's use of social media that brings bullying to the forefront of the plot when Mina sees comments made about her on Jenny's page. These comments are hurtful and cause Mina to lash out at Jenny and drive us to the climax of the film.
All of the family issues are on top of the plot about dreambuilders building our dreams and Mina discovering this land that is usually locked away tightly from humans.
This film packs a lot into the plot and it handles it all surprisingly well.
There is a scene that features a giant spider, and lots of little spiders, thunder and lightning which may be scary for younger audiences (or people who have a fear of spiders).
This spider is made clearly to look like a prop for a dream so that is kind of the saving grace here, however it is still a very large and very scary spider.
This spider makes a return in a later scene and even though it is still a prop it chases our main characters around and this may frighten younger audiences.
One of our main characters is in trouble, younger audiences may question if said character is "OK" as she is seen lying, life-less. This may upset sensitive children.
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There is no foul language in this film however the phrase "I hate you" is said and another, more disturbing phrase "I'd kill myself".
The later is part of the scene where Mina discovers hurtful comments are being made about her on social media. This can certainly be turned into a teachable moment about bullying but is it jarring to hear it said pretty casually in an animated film.
My Final Thoughts
I did not expect to enjoy this film as much as I did. I want to meet my own dreambuilder!
I love this idea that our dreams are scripted with props and sets and feature little dreambuilder actors who perform with us every night.
I liked the whimsy of the dreambuilder side of the plot and wish there was more of it. I wanted more scenes of Mina just having fun without causing any harm or being so focused on Jenny - I wanted Mina to be more carefree.
That being said, this film does feature multiple family dynamics; both Mina and Jenny are dealing with their response to a parent leaving them and they are both discovering what it means to have a step-family.
The heaviness of the plot lines of parents abandoning their children, step sisters fighting and someone getting bullied online is not truly balanced out by the fun of the dreambuilders, which is why I found myself wanting more scenes in the dreambuilder world, but it works just enough to make this film enjoyable to watch.
Dreambuilders Age Recommendation: 7+
This film features some heavier plot lines that toddlers and preschoolers will not comprehend. The dreambuilder side of the storyline is not whimsical enough for the littlest of audiences as even most of those scenes are heavier than they needed to be when Mina uses the dreambuilder sets to seek revenge on Jenny.
It is for these reasons that I think this unrated film is more suitable for older children.
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