This Looks Terrible! Dream A Little Dream 2
“I fear I may have made a terrible mistake!” If he were being honest, that’s what Corey Feldman would probably tell himself after accepting pretty much every role in a low-rent, micro-budgeted exploitation movie/cry for help he cranked out during the lean years, which began in 1990 or so and continue until today.
Well, friends, as the owner, editor-in-chief, proprietor and sole employee of Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place, I have promised to keep it real with y’all, so I must confess that only two movies into Corey Feldman month, I too fear that I may have made a terrible mistake. I’m starting to understand why the Two Coreys are, at most, minor cult figures who are more or less the subject only of pity and morbid fascination at this point.
They’re tragicomic figures, but the tragedy of their personal lives has overshadowed the feeble comedy of their post Dream A Little Dream work to the point where, to even laugh at the shenanigans of the Two Coreys feels in curiously bad taste, like an inadvertent chuckle at a funeral. Funereal seems an appropriate adjective for these woeful attempts at mirth and frivolity, and not just because, like his hero Michael Jackson, Corey Feldman seems to have gotten skin-lightening treatments, but since he was already white, it resulted in his skin becoming a ghostly pallor I have taken to calling “Cadaver White.”
Granted, it wasn't like real life has ruined art. It hasn’t taken away National Lampoon’s Last Resort buoyant wit or Lubitsch-like sophistication. It’s not like, I dunno, Johnny Depp’s descent into leathery, over-scarfed creepdom casting a dark shadow over the incongruously child-like joy of Cry Baby.
In that respect, the arc of The Two Coreys’ fascinatingly flawed fake-reality/real-reality show The Two Coreys echoed the arc of its star’s careers. The first season was a blandly cheesy, clearly scripted mismatched buddies light comedy that clearly hoped to do for the Two Coreys what The Osbornes did for Ozzy Osbborne: transform a man legendary for his battles with drugs and alcohol and battles with ferocious personal demons into a safe, lovable clown for a public ready to forgive, forget and embrace the sacred American art of personal and professional re-invention.
Then, as I recount in a My World of Flops Case File I suspect helped spell doom for the column’s future in The A.V Club by focussing on the intensely non-commercial, non-page-view friendly subject matter of Corey Feldman (who you can read much more about all month long here at Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place!), reality took over.
Haim and Feldman’s perpetually fraught and mercurial personal relationship exploded and a fake reality show became a real, harrowing document of Haim’s personal and professional spiral. I vaguely recall watching The Two Coreys when it was first on air. Actually, I definitely saw it because a scene where Feldman arranges an intervention for Haim with Pauly Shore and Todd Bridges.
When even the Weasel himself, Mr. Paulytics, is all like, “It’s alright to wheeze the juice buddy but your self-destructive, selfish, addictive behavior is hurting both you and the people who love you” something has clearly gone awry. Then again, being an obsessive chronicler of the Two Coreys, I know that in Haim’s life pretty much everything went awry, and by the time Haim reunited with Feldman for a sequel to 1989’s Dream A Little Dream, they’d long since tumbled from the A (or at least B) list to the D list.
In 1989 Feldman & Haim had the juice to costar alongside heavyweights like Jason Robards and Harry Dean Stanton in a theatrically released body-switch comedy that arrived at the tail end of a wave that brought the world Big, Vice Versa and 18 Again. By the time of the 1995, however, the duo were strictly direct-to-video.
The direct to video sequel to Dream A Little Dream kicks off with the spiritual seeker Jason Robards played in Dream A Little Dream but that he most assuredly does not play here, sending Bobby (Corey Feldman) and Dinger (Corey Feldman) a pair of magical sunglasses, along with an all-important note from the spirit world informing them of what they are to do with them.
Bobby and Dinger share a room festooned with posters for The Flaming Lips and Green Day’s Dookie and share an apartment with Rachel Holfeld (Robyn Lively), a woman introduced reading Susan Faludis Backlash, prompting Bobby, who is more of an Alex P. Keaton, Reagan youth type dude, to call her a Feminazi.
You can tell Bobby is a high-powered business mind because he says things like, “Stocks are up.” Only a true professional would be able to throw around arcane terminology like that.
Dream A Little Dream 2 can’t think up a more business-y job for his character than being an unusually business-minded sunglasses store employee. Then again, Dream A Little Dream 2 is magical sunglasses-themed and is intent on saving money by any means necessary. It doesn’t have the budget for a whole magical sunglasses plot unless sunglasses also figure prominently in other areas of the film as well. Sunglasses don’t grow on trees you know. Especially not magical sunglasses.
Alas, at that very moment the dudes spill soda on the note and have no choice but to experiment with the sunglasses themselves and discovers that these sunglasses make wearers seem really groovy, and also high, but if worn in tandem, the person with the dominant pair of glasses will be able to exert their will to make the person with the non-dominant pair do whatever they want physically.
They try wearing the sunglasses in various combinations. For example, when Lively’s roommate/love-interest is wearing the dominant pair of shades, Dinger, in a wholly uncharacteristic act of thoughtfulness and responsibility, decides to compulsively clean and vacuum. Apparently wearing these magical glasses produces side effects similarly to chronic crystal meth compulsion.
In the film’s most jarring break with reality and headiest and least plausibly science-fiction conceit, what Dinger apparently wants his buddy Bobby to do, more than anything, is bust out with some of his patented Corey Feldman-style Michael Jackson-dancing. Feldman is all over the soundtrack and while Feldman’s voice is certainly distinctive and has a lot of character, it also sounds not unlike the howling of an un-neutered cat, and I do not mean that in a positive way.
The whole point of putting Haim and Feldman in a movie together is to have them interact. For was it not the Gods themselves who ordained that they must act together, initially in a series of high-profile, mainstream successes, and later in a dispiriting gauntlet of cheap horse shit, by giving them the same first name?
If God didn’t want Haim and Feldman to share the frame he would have given them different names. Yet Dream A Little Dream 2 does something very stupid in segregating its Coreys. It’s splits them up by having Haim’s Dinger, who is introduced wearing both a shirt and jeans with peace signs on them, thereby establishing the intensely pacifistic nature of his wardrobe, spend most of the movie in jail trying to conduct a seance to get back in contact with Robards’ offscreen yet constantly mentioned spiritual mentor.
This leaves Feldman to carry a film that posits itself as a wacky comedy but is perversely obsessed with a rote action-comedy subplot involving a sexy mystery woman trying to steal the magical glasses and various hoods and low-lifes with designs on the crazy shades. Interspersed are black and white dream sequences that are clumsy and cliched but represent the only sign that James Lemmo, the film’s director, learned his craft as the cinematographer of Abel Ferrara’s early films.
Dream A Little Dream 2 marks a distinct improvement over National Lampoon’s Last Resort, which I last covered for this special, special month. Then again, pretty much everything is superior to Last Resort. There are scattered moments throughout Dream A Little Dream 2 when Haim exudes the boyish charm and sure comic touch that made him a teen idol and important component of some movies that are special to a lot of people’s childhoods.
That’s the tragedy of Haim, in Dream A Little Dream 2 and outside it: he was a beautiful boy, and incredibly successful, and while he would always remain a man-child, he would never be truly beautiful again, and success would prove even more illusive.
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