Dreambuilders (PG) - 81 minutes
Joined families – that is when one parent with a child gets together with another – can be problematic.
So it is with 12-year-old Minna (the voice of Robyn Dempsey) and her dad John (Tom Hale) when paired with Jenny (Emma Jenkins) and her mum Helene (Karen Ardiff), John’s fiancé.
Minna has a great relationship with her father ... and her adorable hamster Viggo Mortensen.
Jenny is a lot harder work.
Minna and John live in the country. Jenny and Helene are city slickers who join the other pair.
Jenny, who constantly buries her head in her mobile phone, and is seemingly never done posting Instagram photos, is bossy and unsympathetic.
Minna is used to giving and caring (playing regular chess games with her dad, for instance).
Jenny literally takes over Minna’s bed and insists the rodent is caged rather than allowed to roam freely. Her aim is to get rid of the thing she calls a rat, altogether.
John makes it clear he expects Minna to compromise to help settle the newbies.
Minna is, understandably, none too happy that she is the only one subject to the “heavy lifting”.
We get the two girls’ respective back stories concerning what happened to Jenny’s father and Minna’s mother toward the end of the movie.
A regular vivid dreamer, Minna frequently finds herself lost in her dreams.
One day she breaks the dream code, that is she inadvertently discovers that a bunch of robots cleverly stage people’s nightly ritual.
One dream maker named Gaff (Luke Griffin) has allowed himself to get too close to Minna and reluctantly allows her to observe how it all works.
By doing so, he risks being demoted to “janitor” by the officious, by-the-book inspector (Brendan McDonald).
Then, as things continue to deteriorate at home with her stepsister, Minna takes a more active position in Dreamland, with disastrous consequences.
I love the premise of this Danish animation and the cute execution of Dreamland in particular, which has been created as a throwback to a previous era. In short, it is a studio set up, where sets and props are crafted à la old-style Hollywood.
The messages of compromise, understanding and tolerance in Dreambuilders are delivered in an entertaining way.
I became invested in the journey, irrespective of the fact that given its family-friendly nature the outcome was never in doubt.
Conflict is always a good way to get the blood pumping and the two girls’ attitudes – one genial, the other arrogant – couldn’t have been further apart.
Based on an original idea by Kim Hagen Jensen (who directs alongside Tonni Zinck), scriptwriter Soren Grinderslev Hansen deserves credit for his efforts.
Undoubtedly my favourite moments were spent in Dreamland and the fantasy world the animators have created there.
It is an absolute delight, with missteps the order of the day.
The third act becomes a bit too sugary sweet for my liking. Everything doesn’t have to be wrapped up in a neatly packaged bundle.
A bit of remaining tension would have been far more realistic, notwithstanding the fact that we are speaking about a make-believe animation.
Nevertheless, with a few laughs and plenty of smiles along the way, overall Dreambuilders gets a thumbs up.
Rated PG, it scores a 6½ to 7 out of 10.