Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nemo (1989)

Grip that pole, Nemo.

There has been one full-length animated film based on Little Nemo in Slumberland and the characters of Winsor McCay. A Japanese-American co-production it was released in Japan (titled simply Nemo) on July 15, 1989. Miyazaki film Kiki's Delivery Service opened one week later, and as the McCay-inspired work is entirely pedestrian and predictable and Miyazaki is a fucking genius, Nemo was a box-office disaster. Perhaps its mediocrity has to do with the fact that Chris Columbus has co-credit as screenwriter and everything he touches is awful.

I had never watched Nemo until after the rehearsal process for our Adventures In Slumberland began last week. However, I knew exactly what it would be, and how it would fail, and in what shape I wanted my guide-script to take in order to avoid those obvious, traditional pitfalls.

I needn't have been worried. This film never concerns itself with homage, it's just a stupid, noisy kiddie flick.

Things that are awful about this movie include:
  • The first five minutes are a horrifying nightmare rife with nakedly Freudian "rushing train" symbolism.
  • Though McCay's entire concept is predicated on Nemo's desire to meet the Princess, here he finds the idea repugnant because she's a girl.
  • Flip is voiced by Mickey Rooney. 
I could go on. What is most disappointing is just how pedestrian it is. Slumberland is exotic, perhaps, but nothing dream-like. McCay's stationary comic strip images are packed with explosive subconscious imagination, and nothing in this Nemo movie comes close. Huffalumps and Woozles owes much more to Little Nemo than Nemo does.

Nemo (the motion picture) also inspired a popular video game, Pajama Hero Nemo which is virtually indistinguishable from all other cabinet video games released in 1990 (X-Men, The Simpsons) in which a stationary protagonist while the background moves from right to left (side-scrolling) who just kind of destroys everything that enters their line of vision.

Talespinner Children's Theatre presents Adventures In Slumberland by David Hansen, Nov. 30 - Dec. 22, 2013.

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