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KIDS ON VIDEO

'Little Nemo' Comes Home to Praise

March 11, 1993|LYNN SMITH | Lynn Smith is a staff writer for The Times' View section. and

In the cartoon "Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland" (1992), an imaginative young dreamer is whisked away to an enchanted realm where he unwittingly releases a nightmare monster and then must rescue the king of good dreams and his subjects from the evil king of nightmares. (Rated G)

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If you missed this in movie houses, you're not alone. Many families are now discovering it in video release and adding it to their list of G-rated favorites.

Four-year-old Max has seen it at least 10 times. And despite the cuteness of Nemo and his pet squirrel, a lovely princess, pajama jokes, a flying bed and a bowlful of colorful cookies, he said, "I like the parts that are about the nightmare."

"You mean the inky black, oozy, scary part?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said. "The nightmare was bad. It made the king mad. He was dancing, and the nightmare caught him and took him to nightmare land. The little boy saved him."

Aha.

The nightmare parts were frightening, Max admitted. It was a "big nightmare in the sky floating around with lots of different kinds of smoke and clouds. There was a bat with red and blue on him. He had scary eyes like the nightmare. . . .

"The nightmare was underground. That's where nightmares live. They live in big spooky doors with webs on it."

I knew that.

After Nemo vanquished the nightmare, Max continued, "the people put the big nightmare into the big floor and put a sign on there, 'Don't open.' "

"I don't remember that part," I mentioned.

"The point is," he said, "they came to rescue the king, the princess and the professor."

I wondered if Max was as confused as I was when Nemo "woke up" but remained in his dream. "Do you think it was just a dream? Or do you think it was real?" I asked.

"Dreams are not real," he explained. "They don't have any specific plot."

I knew that.

Besides, he observed, "that's the beautiful part. When he goes back into his bed and he's sleeping and it's morning and his mother told him to wake up and he just kept sleeping and then he woke up and his dad and mom were so happy he had good dreams."

For Max, the movie ranks right up there with "Peter Pan" and "The Jungle Book," but it remains to be seen if it will surpass "Fantasia," which his parents have played for him about 20 times.

His father said, "It's weird how kids like to watch the same movie over and over." But, he said, videos can be a refreshing alternative to Saturday morning cartoons and "awful commercials."

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