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‘Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland’ (G)

By Peter Gilstrap
Washington Post Staff Writer
August 24, 1992

A lot can happen when you get into bed at night, and there's no greater proof of this than the goings-on in the animated film "Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland." While not on the level of "The Jungle Book," "Nemo" is 105 minutes of Ninja-free fun sure to please content-worried parents and keep their fidgety spawn glued to their seats.

When young Nemo and his pet flying squirrel, Icarus, hit the sack one adventure-filled night, they are summoned from their turn-of-the-century bedroom to an Oz-like place called Slumberland by Professor Genius. The prof's mission is to arrange an audience with the high muck-a-muck of the place, good King Morpheus.

Nemo is also introduced to the beautiful Princess Camille and the jolly inhabitants of Slumberland, who seem to be on a nonstop party bender. Why not? This is dreamland, after all. The king adopts Nemo, makes him heir to the throne and gives him the powerful royal scepter used to ward off the evil beings that inhabit Nightmare Land.

Enter Flip, a kind of mutant ne'er-do-well clown aptly portrayed by the voice of aging Hollywood dwarf Mickey Rooney. The cigar-smoking imp persuades the impressionable Nemo to use his magic key to open a mysterious door, unleashing the wicked forces of Nightmare Land on the unsuspecting folk of Slumberland.

Being a good boy, Nemo sets out to right his wrong and eliminate the bad guys, rescue the kidnapped king and return Slumberland to the happy kingdom it once was. This he does, destroying Nightmare Land forever. No more bad dreams -- an interesting concept.

The film is based on one of the first comic strips published in this country, "Little Nemo," created by Windsor McCay in 1905. Its arrival on the big screen is due to the efforts of Chris "Home Alone" Columbus, who wrote the screenplay with Richard Outten from a concept by sci-fi king Ray Bradbury. It's directed by Masami Hata and William Hurtz.

Many of the action scenes are impressively grand, and though the characters' movements are fluidly Disneyesque (story consultants Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston are animators for the legendary studio) some of the less-involved segments are slightly one-dimensional.

All in all, the adventures in Slumberland are an entertaining late-summer distraction for the G-rated moviegoing public (read kids), containing the wholesome message that good triumphs over evil. And -- guess what -- everybody lives happily ever after.

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