Dream Scenario: Nicolas Cage Gets Cancelled

Nicolas Cage in Dream Scenario. Photo credit: Jan Thijs.

A professor is in for a shock when he learns that people are seeing him in their dreams and then it becomes a nightmare in Dream Scenario.

That’s the gist of the new horror-comedy from writer-director Kristoffer Borgli. The filmmaker also finds a way to use the film as commentary on cancel culture. It’s got a solid mix of comedy and horror as we watch the incredible rise and tragic fall of Osler professor Paul Matthews (Nicolas Cage).

Unlike real cases of cancel culture, Paul did nothing wrong. It’s not his fault that people were seeing him in their dreams. Why are they seeing him? His daughter, I could understand. The students in his class–okay, makes sense. But absolute strangers? They’d be more likely to dream about Taylor Swift! After he begins making media appearances, the college professor is as popular. He even meets with brand agencies to discuss additional opportunities. Paul would rather focus on the book that he hasn’t even written rather than become Sprite’s face on social media. And then it happens. The dreams turn into nightmares and everyone is scared of him. Students, parents, friends, you name it. HE DID NOT DO ANYTHING…and cancelled in an instant.

What goes wrong after Paul gets cancelled? Everything. So much for his fifteen minutes of fame because they went buy in a flash. Meanwhile, the brand agency now has to rethink marketing opportunities. The only people who would bother with Paul are Jordan Peterson, Tucker Carlson…and France for some reason. Given the time it takes for movies to go into production, it’s likely this was prior to Tucker getting the ax from Fox News.

Borgli draws on professors having lost their jobs and appearing on podcasts afterwards. One had received a settlement from a college back in 2018. In any event, none of them were all too happy while discussing their lives. Did they really lose things? Maybe. I don’t know. If you look at the situation right now, there are many professors who should lose their jobs for being antisemitic. This is not what is happening in Paul’s case because there is zero explanation for why he shows up in other people’s dreams. But anyway, Borgli takes the concept and turns it into one hell of a satire. He takes the audience on quite the ride during the third act.

What I can say about Nicolas Cage is that the National Treasure star disappears into the role. He never goes full Cage except for the bits and pieces we see during the nightmare sequences. He took a risk on a script from a young filmmaker and it paid off. In his words according to the production notes: “It was one of the best scripts I’ve read, quite frankly, and I think it’s my best performance and probably the best movie I’ve ever made.” While I’m partial to his work in the National Treasure franchise, it’s hard to argue with the actor. He’s done brilliant work throughout his career and he transforms himself once again after appearing in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent last year.

Dream Scenario is the cancel culture satire that we didn’t know we needed and if that’s not enough, Nicolas Cage turns in one of his best performances to date.

CAST: Nicolas Cage, Julianne Nicholson, Michael Cera, Tim Meadows, Dylan Gelula, Dylan Baker

A24 will release Dream Scenario in theaters on November 10, 2023. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.