Saturday, January 19, 2008

Movie Review: Dream to Believe

Dream to Believe tells the story of Robin Crew, played by the almost unbearably adorable Olivia D’Abo.

One can’t help but fall in love immediately after meeting her due to her awkward running, which it’s later discovered is caused by a limp, due to a knee injury she suffered in a car accident that left her father dead.  She now lives with her loving and caring mother, her abusive step-father, and her disinterested sister.  She dreams of becoming a gymnast, but is no longer able due to her injury. Instead she helps out around the gym, watching everyone else show their stuff, and pines after the hunky guy, even though the much dreamier Tommy (played by the incomparable Keanu Reeves) is pining for her.  She also works under her stepfather at his laundromat.  Despite not being able to compete, Robin still practices her moves in secret in the middle of the night at some kind of carpet store or something, leading to this incredible sequence:

She’s very much an outcast at school, and is bullied constantly by two gymnastics cunts, who at one point trick her into showing up to a formal party at the hunky guy’s house all dressed up in a very informal fashion.

She makes only one friend, Carly, who convinces her to join the gymnastics team, anyway, despite her bad knee, and lets Robin use her private exercise room, and also goes thrift store shopping with her at an amazing thrift store where clothes are piled up into huge mountains for the customers to roll around in.

Eventually, she’s able to show up the snooty rich girls at a drive-in diner, as seen in this perfect scene:

Meanwhile, Tommy continues to pursue her, but she’s not interested. Tommy’s friend advises him to just ignore her and start dating other people, and then she will come to him. This method works instantaneously, and they are soon a couple, just in time for him to comfort her after her mother’s sudden death. Her gymnastics teacher then tells her she’s dealing with too much to compete, but Robin is determined and convinces her to give her another shot. Once at the competition, she has some doubts, but with the help of her boyfriend Tommy, her friend Carly (herself disqualified because of an addiction to diet pills), her sister (sorta), and her guardian black friends who teach her the importance of “getting [her] ass across the Falls!”, she is able to overcome, leading to an emotional and uplifting finale.

The plot, the fashion, and the characterizations in this film are typical 80’s fare (which basically makes it automatically good), and it’s got enough strangeness and moments of perhaps unnecessary bleakness to really stand out. What really makes it great, though, and I would argue that this is in fact The Greatest 80’s Movie Ever Made, is the overabundance of charm from the two outstanding leads. With chubby cheeks and a bit of an overbite, Olivia D’Abo doesn’t have typical Hollywood good looks, but she is seriously as cute as humanly fucking possible. Likewise, Keanu is young and handsome, and gives one of the most sincere and likable performances of his career.

This is also, for me, the most rewatchable movie ever made. I may have seen Showgirls a lot more times, but these days I only watch it when it’s playing in the theater or if I’m showing it to someone. Dream to Believe is one of very few movies I actually crave rewatching on a semi-regular basis, even at home by myself, while I would normally be obsessing over all the movies I haven’t seen once.

There have been multiple video releases, also under the titles of Flying and Teenage Dream, and is constantly going out of print. I can’t recommend this film enough, and it is so worth tracking down. Your best bet is to look for it on VHS, either to rent or to buy cheaply. The DVD releases are ripped from the video, anyway, so there’s no downgrade in quality.

To finish, here’s a clip of the actors discussing how underrated their movie is:

11/26/06: VHS
01/29/07: DVD
02/01/07: DVD
07/19/07: DVD
07/20/09: VHS

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