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Dreambuilders - Blu-ray + Digital

Shout Factory // Unrated // August 24, 2021
List Price: $22.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ryan Keefer | posted September 13, 2021 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

I've been slowly trying to broaden my kid's cinematic horizons lately, but the window between something that looks silly against something that may be a little too ‘mature' (in the non-romantic context) for his tastes, with the most recent attempt being Dreambuilders, a 2020 animated film from Denmark that could be viewed as a lesser family member to either Monsters, Inc. or Inside Out, two gems within the Pixar stable.

From a screenplay by Soren Hansen and directed by Kim Jensen and Torri Zinck, the film looks at Minna, the only child to her father John. When John meets someone, Minna becomes stepsister to Jenny, a caustic, superficial teen preoccupied with popularity and status. When Minna realizes that she has the ability to control the dreams of other people, she puts the power to a use that she finds regrettable.

It's easy to see why Dreambuilders could be seen as a film that could appeal to younger kids; after all, there's a family on the picture, two kids and an interesting creature! Big laughs, come on! But it examines the complicated feelings that Minna has in having Jenny start to take her father's attention away from her (and to be fair, Jenny does act like a heel after an initial pleasant if not civil first impression). It also shows when she takes for granted the power that she has and she realizes the toll that it takes on those she loves, hates and the number of people that she doesn't realize are involved in her dream controls, run ragged by her whims. It gets a little dark, and its focus on that tends to be something they spend more time in (without consistently humorous diffusion) than not, and it hurts the film in the process.

Compared to Pixar films that show the melancholy while effectively balancing with humorous moments, Dreambuilders tends to start a little serious, earlier on, than other films that would call for it, and it doesn't let the viewer catch up in the process. An interesting, potentially profound movie, turned out to be a confusing one at the end of its 80ish minutes.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

Dreambuilders tends to borrow a brighter look that other animated films, and kind of reminds me of Bao, a 2018 Pixar film about a dumpling that comes to life. There's a kind of warmness about the characters and nothing looks too fluid or lifelike, save more a hamster diving into a bowl of milk early in the film for example, so it can do the work when called upon.

The Sound:

DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround tracks in English and French (my player defaulted to the latter, but I went with the English track), and the experience isn't bad. Dialogue is balanced in the center channel and consistent over the course of the film, and when things get to the dream environment that's when the dynamics broaden a bit with more low end thumps and channel panning get included in the mix. A fine soundtrack.

Extras:

There's a trailer (2:03) along with a standard definition disc copy of the film as well.

Final Thoughts:

I'm not sure if at the beginning of writing this that I would touch on so many Pixar films was an intentional choice or not, but there's a reason why they're as good as they are, doing what they are, and their ability to do it as consistently as they do (making it look easy in the process!) sure does contrast it against Dreambuilders, whose intentions are pure but whose execution is flawed. Technically the disc is fine and the extras scant, but if you're going to want a Pixar-esque film, go watch a Pixar film.

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