CERT: U / DIRECTORS: KIM HAGEN JENSEN, TONNI ZINCK / SCREENPLAY: SØREN GRINDERSLEV HANSEN / STARRING: EMILIE KROYER KOPPEL, CAROLINE VEDEL / RELEASE DATE: JULY 17TH
The plot of Dreambuilders is a pastiche of Inside Out, Monsters Inc., and Despicable Me (what with the tiny little creatures behind the scenes), but the dialogue is wooden and nearly completely expository. Every character is either explaining what they're doing, what's going on around them, or what they're going to do, rather than engaging in conversations. It's beyond condescending, even for a kids' animated film. It's to be expected that children's movie characters might be slightly two-dimensional, but this is beyond the pale. They're paper-thin, and the new stepsister, Jenny, is utterly horrid an individual, to a point that makes Cinderella look subtle.
Dreambuilders is, however, utterly gorgeous. The dream world and its sets are a blend of Monsters Inc. and Coraline, and perfectly dreamy and - when necessary - nightmarish. In exactly the opposite way one would expect, the construction of the dream world is Dreambuilders' only plotline that manages to make any sort of sense, and the sheer vastness and creativity granted to the sets are equal parts whimsical and clever.
It takes a literal hour to get the point where there's much excitement. It's solid at that point, but the fact that Dreambuilders spins its wheels for two thirds of the movie before it manages to achieve any actual emotional engagement is definitely a knock against the film.
Dreambuilders also gets really dark: Jenny's dad left because he regretted having a child and one of the comments on her Instagram regarding Minna reads something along the lines of "if she were my stepsister, I'd kill myself." The chances of this crossing over slimmed way down with that line.
While the imagery is gorgeous, and the final half hour certainly an improvement upon what's preceded it, the overall impression of this animated film is one of being overwhelming underwhelmed.