With dreams, nightmares, and enchanting pearls, ‘Slumberland’ is a through-and-through fantasy adventure tale! Directed by Francis Lawrence, ‘Slumberland’ is the story of Nemo, a young girl who discovers the magical world of dreams that is called Slumberland. The character of Nemo is played by newcomer Marlow Barkley, Flip is portrayed by Jason Momoa, Peter by Kyle Chandler, and Uncle Philip is played by Chris O’Dowd. The adventure movie is inspired by the comic strip ‘Little Nemo in Slumberland’ written by Winsor McCay. Furthermore, the screenplay is written by David Guion and Michael Handelman. While watching the movie, you might have felt lost between what is happening in the Waking World and what is happening in Slumberland, so let’s figure it out together. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Slumberland Plot Synopsis
Nemo lives peacefully on an island with her loving father, Peter, who works at the lighthouse. Peter is a great storyteller and delights Nemo with fantasy tales about adventures whenever she has trouble sleeping. They have a great relationship and life together, filled with love, stories of adventures, and lessons of life. One disastrous night, a storm strikes the island and the nearby waters, pulling Peter away from his post to save a ship in danger. The next morning, Nemo wakes up from a nightmare where she sees her dad drowning and being taken by a giant squid-like monster.
Carla, an employee on the mainland, informs Nemo of her father’s death. Before dying, he had made arrangements for his daughter to be taken care of by his brother Philip. Carla arranges the funeral and oversees Nemo’s shift to the big city. Heartbroken and devastated, Nemo has a tough time processing the news and partially shuts herself off. Settled in the new city with a new school, one night, her teddy pig comes alive, and her bed grows legs that take her back home to the island.
In her home, she finds a strange-looking man rifling through her dad’s belongings. She learns that this is Flip, the fictional character who was her dad’s partner in all his bedtime stories. She discovers that she is in Slumberland indeed and breathing in the land of dreams. Flip is after a map that can guide him to the greatest treasure of Slumberland – the wish-granting pearls.
With the help of the charming and hilarious outlaw Flip, Nemo goes on an adventure to find the precious treasure of pearls that can grant anything one desires. They make a deal to keep out of each other’s way and fulfill what they each wish for. Flip has been stuck in the dreamland for way too long and hence does not remember his real self. He wants the pearls to wake up again and experience life, whereas Nemo dreams of seeing her dad again and wants the pearls to fulfill that desire. In the world of dreams, anything and everything is possible. From a kid driving a humongous truck to a man flying high on a goose, Nemo sees everything on the once-in-a-lifetime adventure she embarks on.
They discover the true meaning of dreams that feature repressed desires, fears, and people’s life experiences that mold who they are. But not all dreams are sweet in Slumberland. Flip has Agent Green of BOSA, Bureau of Subconscious Activities, behind him who has been chasing him for over 30 years as he is one of the most wanted criminals in that land. Whereas Nemo is being hunted by the same squid-like monster, she saw in her nightmare on the day her dad died. And that squid can kill them in other people’s dreams which would mean their final death, and they will not be able to wake up again. So, they pursue their goal with a monster on their tail, making the ride even more thrilling.
Slumberland Ending: Are the Pearls Real? What Did Nemo Wish For?
Flip and Nemo’s journey starts with a common purpose – to find the precious pearls that can grant them their biggest desires. They each want something for themselves, and the pearls will help them get it. But their journey is lined with obstacles like the agent from BOSA and the Nightmare Squid.
When Agent Green catches up to Flip and Nemo, she puts Flip behind bars and takes Nemo to her office to have a chat. She then tells her that the pearls are a myth and they don’t exist. Furthermore, she convinces Nemo to focus on the Waking World because that’s where life happens, and it will not wait for her to catch up. Many people get so lost in Slumberland that they forget how to wake up or function in the real world, like Flip. They lose themselves permanently and are then stuck in the fantasy world forever.
When Nemo wakes up, she resolves that she will follow the outlaw code and will not leave her partner behind. She traces her steps back to BOSA and breaks Flip out of prison using the lock-picking trick Philip taught her. Then, Flip tells Nemo that the pearls are not a myth because it was her father who saw the pearls at the end of the whirlpool in the Sea of Nightmares. It was for this reason that Flip decided to pursue this adventure and find the pearls for his friend as he would never lie.
When they reach the final door, Flip and Nemo have an argument after which Nemo is awakened by her teacher at school. Still determined and relentless, she goes back to Slumberland to get to the treasure pearls. When Nemo gets to the bottom of the whirlpool all alone, she sends in Pig to get the pearls for her. With the Nightmare Squid behind her, she scrambles to pull Pig up again when suddenly Flip emerges in a plane and knocks the Nightmare Squid out. They escape the Sea of Nightmares and decide to go back to the lighthouse that is Nemo’s safe place.
But Nightmare Squid catches on and traps Flip in one of its arms. Nemo takes a pearl from Pig and wishes that Flip wakes up. This makes him vanish from the dream world and wake up in the Waking World, thus saving him from the Nightmare Squid. This proves that the pearls are indeed real as they granted Nemo’s wish. She chose to protect Flip just like he did when he rescued her from the Sea of Nightmares, ultimately consolidating their relationship.
Does Nemo See Her Father Again?
Like every good adventure movie, ‘Slumberland’ also has a plot twist with a show of bravery. When Nemo meets Agent Green, she tells her that she has a great Pig and that she should squeeze it. This is when Nemo learns that Pig took two pearls from the Sea and hence, she can have one more wish fulfilled. And as you can guess, she asked for some time with her father back in their loving home.
Nemo spends some valuable time with her father again and tells him all about her adventure across Slumberland. We see them talking, dancing around, playing music, and eventually having a heart-to-heart conversation. Peter makes her understand that he does not want his daughter to live holed up in a place like him. He wants Nemo to experience the wonders of life and have a fulfilling journey in the Waking World too. Nemo then expresses that she is scared of living by her herself and going through life alone. Peter assures her that if she could successfully go through the Sea of Nightmares alone, the Waking World will be like a breeze for her. This reassurance was all Nemo needed to get back on her feet and face the real world with confidence.
Does Flip Wake Up?
In Slumberland, we see Flip confused and baffled as to who he is and why can’t he wake up. We get to know as the story progresses, that Flip is indeed Nemo’s Uncle Philip. During Peter and Philip’s childhood, they used to make up adventure stories and dress up the part. They were very close as siblings and used to be together every second of every day. Peter had an amazing imagination, and he used to make up stories on the spot. Philip was shy and an introvert as a kid and had trouble talking to people.
When Peter fell in love with Nemo’s mother and went away to start a life together, it left Philip all alone. He begged Peter to stay and be with him, but he went away on an adventure with his love. This was when Philip stopped dreaming and having adventures, leaving Flip trapped in the dream world. Flip is Philip’s dream persona that he used to adopt when traveling through dreams.
When the Nightmare Squid catches Flip, Nemo uses one of her pearls to wake Flip up and reunite him with Philip. This saves Flip from the monster and gives Philip in the Waking World the confidence to be brave and save Nemo from drowning. Flip wakes up in Philip again, becoming one and completing each other in a lot of different ways. Flip’s courage and conviction, coupled with Philip’s vulnerability and innocence, help them be awesome in the real world.
What is the Smoky Squid Monster? What Happens to it?
The land of dreams has every kind of dream personified, from great memory-induced dreams to bad ones like fears and nightmares. The Smoky Squid Monster or Nightmare Squid represents the deep-rooted fears and emotions that Nemo did not deal with. Her Nightmare was made up of the repercussions of her dad’s death and her fear of facing the world alone. It is called upon whenever Nemo is scared of something, or she doubted herself. As Flip tells her, the Nightmare can sense fear and can trap a person in an endless cycle of bad dreams once it is called upon by fearsome feelings.
In the end, when Nemo faces her death with courage, the Nightmare Squid disappears and leaves her alone. This is also when Flip comes alive in Philip, and he dives into the stormy Sea to save Nemo. Their fates align perfectly as they both find the courage to face their demons and emerge victorious in the face of adversity.
Likewise, we also see dreams personified with babies that represent unfulfilled childhood. A nun was dancing in a ballroom in her dream, a hairless man was setting his hair in his dream, and a little kid was driving a monster truck across a lego town in his version of dreams. The movie does a great job of telling us how our emotions and feelings are personified in our dreams and can take on different meanings, which are decoded once we face our feelings. The ending of ‘Slumberland’ may be confusing, but it is heartwarming to see Nemo and Philip come together and begin a new life together.
Read More: Will There be a Slumberland Sequel?