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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Babes in the Woods
by Betty Jo Tucker

Mean Dreams features one of the late Bill Paxton’s last film performances -- and it’s a doozie. During the course of his career, Paxton entertained us in many movies (Aliens, Twister, A Simple Plan, Tombstone, etc.) not just because of his good looks and acting talent, but also because of the type of roles he chose to play. In this thriller, he portrays one of the sleaziest villains ever filmed. And he makes us forget that he could also play a good guy. We cannot empathize with his character here for one minute! Instead, we want this evil man to get his comeuppance for the way he treats two youngsters, especially his teenage daughter.

Sophie Nélisse (The Great Gilly Hopkins) excels as the daughter. She projects both strength and vulnerability in this key role. Josh Wiggins (Max) matches her performance with a worthy one of his own. We believe he really wants to protect his friend, even if it means harm to himself.          

From the first minute Casey (Nélisse) and Jonas (Wiggins) meet, these appealing 15-year-olds seem meant for each other. We can’t help hoping they will have a happily-ever-after relationship. Then one fateful day, because of Casey’s dire situation with her father, Jonas takes a big risk to help her.    

Directed by Nathan Morlando (Citizen Gangster) from a screenplay by Kevin Coughlin and Ryan Grassby, the movie deals candidly with child abuse, cop corruption, and young love. Impressive sequences in the woods the teens travel through come across sometimes as very touching, and at other times quite terrifying -- just right for a thriller.

 Mean Dreams follows two depressed teens

and overflows with dismal scenes.

It also makes us very sad

to watch Bill Paxton be a cad.

But fine acting by everyone

wins us over before it’s done.


A boy and girl, babes in the woods,

run far away with stolen goods.

The girl’s dad is an abuser

and won’t stop the way he hurts her.

Killing the boy might be his plan.

It’s good these two are on the lam.


We want young love to win, of course.

But dad is on the police force.

  Suspense keeps viewer interest high.

We hope the youngsters do not die!

How does the movie end, you ask?

Revealing that is not my task.

  Love is much like a wild rose, beautiful and calm, but willing to draw blood in its defense. --- Mark Overby

(Released by Vertical Entertainment and rated “R” for some violence and language.)

For more information about Mean Dreams, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website. 

Read Richard Jack Smith's lovely Bill Paxton Tribute by clicking here.

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