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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 33.76%
Average: 7.64%
Pretty Bad: 10.19%
Total Crap: 10.83%

9 reviews, 103 user ratings

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What Dreams May Come
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by Ryan Arthur

"For in that sleep of death what dreams may come..."
4 stars

"Hell is for those who don't know they're dead."

Imagine the afterlife as a sort of world that is based on your thoughts, dreams, feelings and emotions. For Chris (Robin Williams), that world looks a lot like the paintings of his wife Annie (Annabella Sciorra). It's a world of vibrant colors and beautiful, symbollic images. When Chris picks up a flower it turns into a mush of oil paint in his hands. That's how his afterlife is inspired. It's different for everyone.

Chris and Annie were sort of star-crossed lovers. They were soul mates. They met, they fell in love, they had two children. The kids die some years later in a car crash that Annie feels responsible for (she wasn't with them). She has a breakdown, and attempts suicide. She fails, and Chris helps her get through it. Then, four years later, Chris himself dies in a freak accident. Chris is led through the afterlife by Albert (Cuba Gooding, Jr.). Chris accepts the afterlife somewhat begrudgingly. He misses his wife.

But Annie is torn up. She's lost her entire family. She commits suicide and is banished to Hell. Chris goes on a mission with Albert and a Tracker (Max Von Sydow) in tow, and plans to bring her back.

That's the setup.

The execution is flawed.

Technically and visually stunning, and heads and shoulders - in terms of appearance - above ANY film in the last decade (and maybe longer), What Dreams May Come nearly gets a five-star rating on its visuals alone. But it's not without its problems.

It is sappy and saccharine. Shamelessly so. And while there's nothing inherently wrong with that (I like sappy movies), the film goes out of its way to pull your heartstrings. How much heartbreak can one family go through? Even the dog has died. It's unfortunate that a movie needs to go to such great lengths to make you feel for a character, that you have to be literally be beaten over the head with death to say "Oh, that's so sad." It's almost as if screenwriter Ron Bass (he also wrote My Best Friend's Wedding) is trying to capitalize on the new age craze that seems so popular these days by building up the tragedy quotient but fixing everything in the end on the strength of love and faith.

Chris has a tearful reunion with his two children in the afterlife as well (I won't spoil how they show up). It's interesting, but unfortunately predictable. It's a Hollywood movie, and thus the happiness that the family will ultimately wallow in is a foregone conclusion.

And Annabella Sciorra seems all wrong for her part. Her Annie, even when her family is living, is nothing more than a blank slate. Her range goes from smiling with long, wacky hair to frowning and crying with short, goofy hair. Williams is better. I'm convinced he should stick exclusively to dramatic roles, because I think he's infinitely better in them than he is in comedic ones.

Despite the flaws, this is still an extraordinary film, and like I said, it nearly gets a five-star rating. I can only give it a four (it'd be closer to a 4.5 or 4.75 if I could do that), but that's misleading. See it for the visuals and be amazed at the starkness of hell and the vividness of heaven, just brush your teeth afterwards, because it's awfully sugary.

It's about NOT giving up. It's about NOT shouting a line like that.

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originally posted: 10/12/98 23:43:47
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User Comments

6/07/17 Ed Riddick I found it moving. Sets a very high bar and almost makes it. 4 stars
8/31/11 courtlove beautiful film with straight forward plot. what would you do for love. 5 stars
9/14/10 david too sentimental, and plot doesn't make any sense 2 stars
5/22/10 Eddie Not a movie for those who can´t stand the weight of their cynism and never felt real love 4 stars
10/06/09 hu100 sucks this movie was total crap! why would anyone watch this?!?!?!!? 1 stars
10/25/08 brian I agree with JM Synth 100% 2 stars
10/09/08 ninis to all the ppl that hated this movie they know nothing this movie has many lit. references 5 stars
3/27/08 JM Synth Visuallly impressive but sappy and completely unengaging 2 stars
3/03/08 ladavies thought provoking, beautiful , emotional ...maybe not for everyone 4 stars
9/14/07 DC i actually watched this only for werner herzog's cameo. not worth it by a long shot. sorry 1 stars
7/17/07 fools♫gold Very nicely metaphorical; I wish there was more. Well, onto another film... 4 stars
6/12/07 Danielle Ophelia Check your cynicism and let the movie have the floor. 4 stars
3/13/07 lupe with love anything is possible!! 5 stars
12/04/06 Emily This movie is beautiful, I loved it 5 stars
11/22/06 Rai I loved it, one of the first movies i really cried on 5 stars
8/14/06 Patrick Casanova Despite some theological disagreements, I found this movie to be beautiful and entertaining 5 stars
12/21/05 Indrid Cold Hope the afterlife is more logical than this, but if it looks half this nice, I'd be happy. 4 stars
11/21/05 Paul I didn't know what to expect, but this movie amazed me! 4 stars
10/09/05 Rhonabel Jalipa The movie is so wonderful and awesome! 5 stars
6/24/05 love Robin Williams was not right for this movie and the end has no logical meaning!! 3 stars
4/24/05 Quigley its philosophy is totally twisted, but it has incredible colorful digital landscapes. 4 stars
10/27/04 Erika I think this movie is beautifully made and thought provoking. 4 stars
7/24/04 Christina fabulous 5 stars
7/23/04 ~*Alicia*~ i loved this was very emotional...and great perfomances by all the charaters 5 stars
5/16/04 Lily Schneider It was a kick-ass movie; very emotional with a lingering sense of hope about death. 5 stars
5/16/04 Daveman Horribley overblown and pretentious. Williams is superb as ever though. 2 stars
2/19/04 R.W. Welch Pretty slow in heaven but it picks up nicely when they get to hell. Awesome visuals. 4 stars
2/13/04 Bryand Gabriel Rasco A film with deeper meaning, beautiful if you will take a closer look. 4 stars
1/24/04 Lorelei This film is my cathdreal of adoration! Beautiful. 5 stars
11/05/03 Sharel VonSeggern I really enjoyed this film. It was brilliant, and inspiring. It really made you think! 5 stars
10/11/03 tintle one of the greatest movies ever 5 stars
5/14/03 vicki lee romanitc,curious,kind if film,loved it! 5 stars
4/25/03 mr. Pink Awful tripe! Even the visuals started to irritate me immensely after 5 minutes. 1 stars
12/29/02 MissBroadway2001 One of my favorites, brilliant performances, brilliant visuals, a must see for movie fans! 5 stars
10/14/02 Charles Tatum Kinda spooky, kinda sad 4 stars
10/07/02 TheOthersFan Only movie I've ever seen that actually pulled the heartstrings. 5 stars
9/23/02 .Choadushouse. An absolutely beautiful film. It's so warm. Don't usually like Robin Williams, but DO here. 5 stars
6/10/02 Jermaine Couldn't be better 5 stars
3/02/02 Adrienne Stowe Life force?!? Has big tobacco got movies over the barrel or what? 1 stars
1/10/02 danny as someone who lost my soulmate, it gave me great peace 5 stars
12/21/01 Corky It was the best movie I have ever seen and my love life has changed because of it! 5 stars
12/11/01 Rey Mendoza Jr This movie is so cool and I have it on VHS and on DVD 5 stars
11/29/01 Amy Fabulous...could watch it twice a week. 5 stars
9/17/01 korakot jai beautiful pics 4 stars
9/13/01 Zoe Fitzgibbon I thought this movie was really stupid the first time i saw it but it was good the 2nd time 4 stars
8/19/01 Dr. Thompson Trite maudlin new age view of heaven. Dante did it better. 1 stars
8/07/01 Mr. Hat The premise was real nice.....but damn..... 2 stars
7/08/01 officer 412/l the worst film I ve ever seen. some one pass the bucket 1 stars
6/05/01 I love movies beautiful crap 1 stars
2/19/01 INCUBATOR When you die, it doesn`t mean your love dies too 5 stars
6/16/00 Bender Overlong, but pretty good, and stunning effects 4 stars
5/12/00 Girl9 Beautiful and unique with a touching message, but certainly not for everyone. 5 stars
3/17/00 Dr Fardook very pretty to look at but shite as a movie 2 stars
2/17/00 Kyle Broflovski So it's sappy, syrupy, and sentimental. Why is that always a BAD thing, hmmmm???? 4 stars
1/18/00 Foxdvd I would rather spend the day picking up soap for Richard Simons 1 stars
12/19/99 Jennifer Hunter Beautiful effects, very emotional, a great experience. 5 stars
12/08/99 dog i think it sucked so bad,it made gandhi look good 1 stars
11/06/99 hum very pretty but not a good movie 3 stars
9/16/99 mr. pink my idea of hell is seeing this movie again 1 stars
7/08/99 Ann Wonderful-really makes you think about what happens when loved ones pass on 5 stars
6/25/99 David Keech Sappy? I would argue honest. Great effects & great script = great movie. 5 stars
4/07/99 unstrung without the SE's:decent film?with the SE's... HOLY SH1T IN YOUR PANTS BATMAN!!!!!! 5 stars
3/20/99 davebo good sets & cg, dialogue needed help and story got too weird 4 stars
3/11/99 Bats Innovative visuals; wish the tone was closer to the book 3 stars
3/09/99 Go Swans This film was so sugary, horrible, soppy, sentimental, manipulative, poxy, sad, confusing. 1 stars
1/16/99 Melissa Visually pleasing. Robin and Cuba were excellent. See it at a theater for the full effect. 4 stars
1/12/99 Miss Scarlett Wow, one of the best movies of the year, very innovative 5 stars
1/10/99 twisted barbie great until the ending...why leave utopia? the book was fabulous, though 4 stars
12/29/98 thEnd Take your serious girlfriend to this one, guaranteed hit! 5 stars
12/22/98 Jim Niles dreary--unwatchable 2 stars
12/19/98 PirateGirl Dogmatic objections aside, visually stunning but NEEDED character development. Felt long. 4 stars
12/12/98 Dave Parrish Slow to start, rushed to end, but that middle part rocked! 4 stars
12/10/98 George Morgan Somehow I can't picture Heaven as a wet oil painting canvas that we slide on. 2 stars
11/28/98 ShadowStar© You wanna know what my dream was watching this movie? THE ROLLING OF THE END CREDITS!!! 1 stars
11/19/98 Scott von Berg brilliant visually. 4 stars
11/07/98 Negative Creep Happiness is your family being dead? But at least you're together for eternity! FUCK THAT! 3 stars
11/07/98 Jayson Lauden Robin Williams delivers another brilliant performance. If you think otherwise you're dumb. 5 stars
11/04/98 Jamoch Stunning visuals, no spark between Williams and Sciorra 4 stars
10/31/98 Specter ok, not great. 3 stars
10/27/98 MR HOLLYWOOD !! inspirational direction!,tear-jrker of a plot,Robin/Sciorra MAKE this movie,Cuba's boring!. 4 stars
10/26/98 me saw it with spork-girl and i agree 5 stars
10/23/98 Christ Monkey Decent. Visually stunning, and touching, but a cop-out ending. 4 stars
10/23/98 Josee Best movie ever! Oscar for Williams! 5 stars
10/20/98 Milhouse Faqw Crap. Boring, predictable and lame. One of the worst of the year. 1 stars
10/20/98 Craig Friggin A! It rocked! 5 stars
10/19/98 Aint-It-Cool It is a romantic adventure epic unlike anything we've ever seen. 5 stars
10/18/98 Kwyjibo It should have been better. Maybe a little too directed at romantics. 4 stars
10/17/98 Mr Showbiz Dripping with visual aplomb and sugar-coated mysticism, Ward’s film is a staunch romance. 4 stars
10/13/98 Sixteen" of swingin' meat and a bucket of balls I laughed. I cried. I loved it. Robin may get himself a new oscar. Cuba was good too. 5 stars
10/13/98 grunter Like the Sex Pistols . . . Pretty, but vacant. Lush imagery, braid-dead plot. 2 stars
10/07/98 Korny Island Loved it. People who have no romance will hate it. Date movie in the extreme. 5 stars
10/05/98 cheryl_ann it reminded me of an acid flashback combined with dante's inferno. 3 stars
10/04/98 Joe thats not the afterlife damnit, but some nice visuals! 2 stars
10/04/98 Jason Very thought provoking 4 stars
10/04/98 Chris I really enjoyed watching it. 5 stars
10/01/98 Simple Pimple Phenomonal. Fucking incredible. 5 stars
10/01/98 {{{OZ}}} Great movie. If you're cynical about romance, don't bother, but otherwise this movie rules. 5 stars
9/14/98 Chip Taylor Stick to comedy, Robin. 1 stars
8/27/98 Mister Whoopee Robin Williams, superb effects and the question of death. Will hit a chord with many. 4 stars
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  02-Oct-1998 (PG-13)
  DVD: 04-Mar-2003



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