Dreambuilders review – blandly bright family animation

A young girl discovers she can infiltrate her snippy stepsister’s dreams in this unengaging adventure for kids

This digimated Danish import might have shifted a modest number of popcorn deals in the days before the coronavirus came to town: it’s bright, derivative of only the most illustrious predecessors, and all over inside 80 minutes. Whether it would be worth corralling everybody in an enclosed public space for that time and thereby risking the lives of you and yours will have to be a matter for individual consumers to decide.

Its strongest selling point is the animation itself. As we follow pre-teen Minna into the hinterland of her own dreams – her fantasies and nightmares are conjured up by a cast of Smurf-blue tin men – it’s apparent that directors Kim Hagen Jensen and Tonni Zinck have granted animators Hydralab an appreciably loose rein. To wit: a network of “dreamstages” (think soundstages for sleep) connected by a rattly, gravity-defying funfair infrastructure – not unlike the Monsters, Inc assembly line, but extended further out into abstract space. The world-building is a cut above the film’s character design, which proves rather more beholden to the wide-eyed Disney-Pixar template, without its expressive range.

Elsewhere, there are the usual shortfalls of imported animated content. Any sharpness of angle in the original concept – like Minna’s realisation she can infiltrate her snippy, Insta-obsessed stepsister’s reveries and make her a better person – soon gets dulled by blunt translation and bland redubbing. If you just wanted to plonk everyone down in front of pretty shapes and colours for 80 minutes, then Dreambuilders will serve you on the same level as the loop-the-loops of last year’s equally middling Wonder Park – but then that movie had the advantage of releasing before the emergence of a lethal airborne virus.

• Dreambuilders is in cinemas from 17 July.


Mike McCahill

The GuardianTramp

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