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Dreamer
DVD disk
04.04.2006 By: Jason Coleman
Dreamer order
Director:
John Gatins

Actors:
Kurt Russell
Dakota Fanning
Kris Kristofferson

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The story of a horse, who breaks a leg while racing, seemingly putting an end to a career in running. When the owners, a disheveled father and his attention starved daughter decide to nurse the horse back to health together, they find themselves patching up more then just the leg. A story about family and forgiveness.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
For a film critic, feel good movies always create conflict. You donít want to seem like just an angry curmudgeon with a heart of stone, but most films in this genre tend to be predictable and schmaltzy. DREAMER is no different; its PRANCER mixed with SEABISCUIT, with a cute kid thrown in for good measure. All the elements that make up this kind of flick are firmly in place Ė the father with an angst ridden past who doesnít like to talk about it, the grandfather who has to redeem himself to his grown son, the good natured Mexican stable hands who love the horses more then money, and finally, the villain who cares about nobody but himself. (Big meany!) DREAMER has a classic three act structure, set up, conflict and resolution, with not much going on in between. Plus, thereís no particular style or directing flair evident here, everything is done very simple and very safe. It reminds me of a time when films were simpler and not so complicated (not a great thing!), only the nostalgic feeling that washes over you is nowhere to be found here.

The presence of wunderkind child actor Fanning is a telltale that sappiness will ensue, and she doesnít disappoint. (Isnít she supposed to be in school?) Sheís presented, as always, as the little engine that could, she brings everyone together and makes everything work out with the crack of her little smile. Why Russell (so great as Snake Plissken and Jack Burton to name a few!) would want to take on this one is definitely an unsolved mystery. If fact, the same goes for all the actors who are wasted and relegated to the sidelines in this one Ė Kristofferson as the aging grandfather, Elisabeth Shue as the throwaway wife (did she need a paycheck?), Luis Guzman as the jolly ranch hand (what a waste!), and character actor David Morse as the mean man (why David, why?) Ė they all deserve so much better. I know that sometimes actors do films just so their kids can watch it, but my suggestion is break out the video camera and keep it in the family, guys. DREAMER almost gives films that are good in this category a bad name and just goes to show that all the greatest actors in the world canít do it on their own. Is it a good movie? Dream on.
THE EXTRAS
Audio commentary by Director John Gatins: A few interesting tidbits, the fact that the kid played by Fanning was originally written as a boy and that blow up dolls were used to fill in crowd scenes, but they are few and far between. (Think needle in a haystack!) Plus Gatins is very politically correct, thanking every person when their name comes up. What a guy!

Who is Mariahís Storm (5:06): You gotta love when a featurette starts off with scenery and then goes to film footage. Then this one moves into doc mode, complete with a narrator with a monotone voice (was Morgan Freeman busy?), as he talks about a real horse that had the same dilemma as the one in the film. It manages to be even more boring then anything Iíve seen on the Discovery Channel.

On The Set: Working With Thoroughbreds (11:05): Technical people talking about the various horses used in the film, showing why the horses will or will not do certain things. (Maybe they donít appreciate SAG scale!) For lovers of these animals only, for the rest itís just horseplay.

Taking Care Of Horses (5:36): Starts with all the actors discussing the horses and how wonderful Fanning is as a free spirit. Combine that with a now mundane female narrator discussing how to actually groom a horse and you have a firm argument for committing suicide!

Meet the Dreamer Dream Cast (17:00): I thought this one would start off talking about the actors in the film, but the first part is Director Gatins talking and talking some more. (Didnít we hear enough during the commentary?!) Then the actors talk about how great Gatins is and yes, he talks some more. A big kiss, kiss, hug, hug fest and you have a front row seat! (Word to the wise, run!)

Deleted Scenes (6:10): No play all here and itís probably a good thing!

ē Chiefís Crown (2:33): Another father and daughter bonding scene, revealing why Russell is so bitter. At least director Gatins had enough sense to know that some things are better left unsaid.

ē Ben Asks For His Old Job Back (3:37): A scene of Russell asking for his job back. Thank God it was taken out, as it goes against everything Russellís character stood for. In fact, it shouldnít have even been included on this disc.

ĒDreamerĒ Music Video Featuring Bethany Dillon (3:23): If you love the guitar wielding Bethany, have at it!

Trackside Live ďDreamerĒ Segment (8:56): A TV interview with Gatins, talking about the film. I think Iíve heard enough of Gatins to last me a lifetime!

There is a Previews section featuring trailers from MADAGASCAR, SHARK TALE, SHREK 2, SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON, JUST LIKE HEAVEN, NANNY MCPHEE, and THE ADVENTURES OF BRER RABBIT.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
To all those religious zealots out there that insist that there should be more family films, I disagree. I think there should be more good family films. DREAMER is so heavily immersed in its own sentimentality, that it doesnít leave any room for anything else. Being uplifting is one thing, being overly sappy is another. Besides, I think itís finally time to let Dakota Fanning run free and go play with kids her own age.
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