Mean Dreams Reviews
In this film, Paxton plays Wayne Caraway, a rural Michigan police officer and single dad, who is pretty bad at both roles - and a pretty bad person in general. When local boy Jonas Ford (Josh Wiggins, the star of 2015's "Max") starts seeing Wayne's teenage daughter, Casey (Sophie NÚlisse, who played the title role in 2013's "The Book Thief"), Wayne is pretty... mean about shattering Jonas' dreams of getting closer to Casey. Mostly it's because Jonas isn't shy about trying to protect Casey from Wayne's abuse, and because Wayne doesn't want Jonas nosing around and discovering any of his other... activities.
After Jonas fails to get his father (Joe Cobden) or Wayne's boss (Colm Feore) to intervene on Casey's behalf, he takes matters into his own hands. When he witnesses an example of just how bad a man that Wayne is, Jonas steals some money, grabs Casey and hits the road. Of course, Wayne comes after his daughter - with a (literal) vengeance. As Jonas and Casey struggle to get away from Casey's dad for good, they confront the harsh realities of life on the run (especially as it pertains to two teenagers in the middle of nowhere), break some laws and put their safety and the safety of others at risk along the way.
"Mean Dreams" is a small, but entertaining coming-of-age movie. The two teen protagonists aren't quite Bonnie and Clyde, but their saga is engaging and their love story is affecting. NÚlisse and Wiggins are two rising young stars whose emerging talents shine through in sympathetic roles and Paxton does his usual expert work as one really bad dude. The script (by Kevin Coughlin and Ryan Grassby) and the direction (by Nathan Morlando) keep the action and dialog both unusually grounded and fairly unpredictable, especially for this kind of film. The score and the cinematography (filmed creatively and beautifully in northern Ontario and Sault Ste. Marie) are also very good, especially for a movie made on a small budget. The film is a bit lacking in gravitas, but it's worth a look - to see Paxton in his last major role - and for the overall quality of the film itself. "B+"
As victims, we get two sweet teenagers stumbling through a crush, saddled with life in a a bleak farming community, who, due to unfortunate circumstance, become fugitives on the lam. It's meat and potatoes cinema: good vs. bad, with little chance of anything going right. Afterall, the cops are the bad guys: whatcha gonna do?
"Mean Dreams" captures vast landscape loneliness, no future hopelessness, tense survival conflict, with fumbling teenagers groping for their footing in life. It's a tense, gripping thrill ride that offers no easy answers, and very muddy avenues. A great down and dirty movie, in the literal sense.