Dreaming in color

Rated 3.0

While most parents are content to showcase their children’s doodling on the refrigerator, digital auteur Robert Rodriguez has at hand a canvas in seemingly every city in the world. Based on the dreams of his 7-year-old son, this latest entry is pretty much what you’d expect from a young boy’s head: lots of fart jokes, excruciating puns and a regurgitation of preexisting fantasy films ranging from The Wizard of Oz to The Neverending Story.

The Neverending Story provides the framework here: A young boy, put upon by bullies, retreats to a dream world occupied by the eponymous characters. To be more precise, they enter his reality to draw him back in order to save his dream world, which is in deadly peril of being destroyed, essentially by the demands of entering adolescence.

What ensues is a heady collaboration of unleashed id between Rodriguez and his offspring, a surreal landscape that swings like a cinematic metronome between tooth-achingly childlike to disturbingly Freudian.

As a package, the film is a further step down from Rodriguez’s increasingly creatively depleted Spy Kids franchise. While he can pretty much create entire worlds out of his garage anymore (case in point the phantasmagoric Sin City), here Rodriguez succumbs to ADD and offers up a dreamscape I suspect will be nightmare bait for the kiddies. The 3-D effects are sketchy (think those “3D” trading cards from the ‘70s) and are only effective when viewed from the center seats of the theater.

Still, as matinee entertainment goes for the family, this is more engaging than most flotsam.