The following contains spoilers for Slumberland, which is now streaming on Netflix.
It is safe to say the Little Nemo in dreamland Winsor McCay’s comic strip is one of the most iconic in the media industry. It holds a special place in the hearts of many people, especially the patrons of New York newspapers, where McCay did a magical page flip at the turn of the 20th century that showed young Nemo experiencing a myriad of dreams only to wake up.
constantine Director Francis Lawrence brings Nemo—this time, a girl played by Marlow Barkley—into the realm of live-action in Dreamland, giving you a visually exquisite journey through the dreamscape that effectively acts as a multiverse. Sadly, his journeys are less about wonder and more about tragedy as he tries to find a way to his late father, Peter. In the process, Nemo meets a satyr-like figure in the form of Jason Momoa’s Flip, making for a mind-blowing ending as the two have one important thing in common: family.
Slumberland has Nemo fighting a nightmare monster
Nemo and Flip use a map to find mysterious sea pearls that they believe will grant them wishes. Nemo wants to create everlasting memories in his mind with Peter, while Flip hopes to wish his true self to wake up, as he has been trapped in the dream world for decades. Surprisingly, Flip, the outlaw his father told him he shared many dream adventures with, is actually the persona Peter created with his younger brother Phillip, who now looks after Nemo.
However, Flip abandons the mission after the revelation because he doesn’t want to wake up to Phillip’s boring life as a doorknob maker. He takes Nemo to find the pearls on his own only for the shadowy nightmare monster, which feeds on his pain and fear, to attack. He searched for her throughout the movie, but Flip returns and protects her from her. While consuming Flip, Nemo ends up using a pearl, wishing him to wake up, so that Phillip can get over his depression over losing Peter.
Slumberland reunites Flip and Phillip to save Nemo
Unfortunately, this whole dream adventure happens because Nemo is knocked unconscious in a storm while trying to get to the lighthouse where she and her father lived when he went into hiding. Peter cut off contact with the outside world after his wife died, so Nemo believes this place will help them live forever in his mind. Unfortunately, when he falls into the water, having fled from Peter’s house, she looks as if she will sink to her death.
Fortunately, Phillip, with the Flip persona released and realizing that he can’t afford to lose the last member of his family, bravely jumps in. He swims down and rescues Nemo. He is helped by the medical team, who are struggling to resuscitate the girl. As this occurs, Nemo’s consciousness ends up in the lighthouse, where he finally achieves closure with Peter. It is a meeting sanctioned by the Office of Subconscious Activity, whose Agent Green reaffirms that it is the fate of the child.
Slumberland changes Nemo and Phillip for the better
Peter confesses that he doesn’t want Nemo to wallow in agony and waste his life. He inspires her to do good in the world, admitting that her love will be endless. As such, Nemo revived, with a grateful Phillip of her hugging her and promising that he would never let her go. The film ends with Phillip showing more bravery, similar to Flip, flirting with Nemo’s teacher and taking his niece on a boat trip.
They both scream, laugh and soak up nature, having exorcised their demons. They really appreciate each other, which is what Peter wanted all along. The final scene has Nemo and Phillip going to sleep, eager for more dreamy adventures, with Nemo’s teddy bear Pig ending the movie by wiggling his ear. This suggests that perhaps magic exists in the waking world, as Pig helped her in the dream world on a mission to cure her.
Watch Nemo’s emotional journey end in Slumberland, now available on Netflix.