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Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland
Little Nemo Japanese poster.jpg
Japanese theatrical release poster
Directed by
  • Masami Hata
  • William Hurtz
Produced by Yutaka Fujioka
Screenplay by
Story by
Starring
Music by
Cinematography Hajime Hasegawa
Editing by Takeshi Seyama
Studio Tokyo Movie Shinsha
Distributed by
  • Toho-Towa (Japan)
  • Hemdale Film Corporation (US)
Release date(s) July 15, 1989 (1989-07-15) (Japan)
August 21, 1992 (1992-08-21) (United States)
Running time
  • 95 minutes (Original cut)
  • 85 minutes (Edited cut)
Country
  • Japan
  • United States
Language
  • Japanese
  • English
Budget
  • ¥3 billion
  • (est. $35 million)
Money made $11.4 million

Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (released in Japan as simply Nemo (ニモ Nimo) and credited in some territories as Little Nemo) is a 1989 Japanese-American animated fantasy film directed by Masami Hata and William Hurtz. Based on the comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay, the film went through a lengthy development process with a number of screenwriters. Ultimately, the screenplay was credited to Chris Columbus and Richard Outten; the storyline and art style differed from the original version. The original soundtrack was penned by the Academy Award-winning Sherman Brothers. The film features the English dub voices of Gabriel Damon, Mickey Rooney, René Auberjonois, Danny Mann, and Bernard Erhard.

The movie was infamous for being in development hell with many people, some of whom worked at Disney and others who worked on Star Wars, some of the people who worked on Looney Tunes, as well as some people who would later found Studio Ghibli, figures such as George Lucas, Chuck Jones, Ray Bradbury, Isao Takahata, Brad Bird, Jerry Rees, Chris Columbus, Ken Anderson, Frank Thomas, Oliver Johnston, Paul Julian, Osamu Dezaki, the Sherman Brothers (Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman), Hayao Miyazaki (who was working at TMS at the time), and Gary Kurtz being involved with the movie before all dropping out.

The film was first released in Japan on July 15, 1989 by the Toho-Towa and in the United States on August 21, 1992 by the Hemdale Film Corporation. It received positive reviews and earned $11.4 million on a $35 million budget and was a box office bomb, but sold well on home video and has since developed a cult following.

Plot

The film opens with the young boy Nemo experiencing a nightmare in which he is pursued by a locomotive. Upon awakening the next day, he goes with his pet flying squirrel, Icarus to see a parade welcoming a traveling circus. However, Nemo is unable to see the circus because his parents are too busy to take him. Later that night, Nemo imitates sleepwalking in an attempt to sneak some pie away, which acts against a promise he had made earlier to his mother. Upon falling asleep that night, Nemo is approached by figures from the parade. The circus organist introduces himself as Professor Genius and claims that they had been sent on a mission by King Morpheus, the king of a realm named Slumberland. The mission involves Nemo becoming the playmate of the princess, Camille. Although Nemo initially has reservations about interacting with royalty of the opposite gender, he and Icarus decide to set off to fulfill his mission after being persuaded with a gift box of cookies from the princess.

Nemo is taken to Slumberland in a dirigible which he is allowed to drive, causing some chaos and is introduced to King Morpheus, who doubles as the circus ringmaster on Earth. Morpheus reveals that he summoned Nemo to become his heir to the throne. Morpheus gives Nemo a golden key that opens every door in the kingdom and warns him of a door with a dragon insignia that must never be opened. Nemo is introduced to Princess Camille and the pair roam the entirety of Slumberland together. Afterward, Nemo meets the mischievous clown, Flip, who angers a group of cops and forces him and Nemo to hide out in a cave. There, Nemo discovers the door that Morpheus warned him not to open. Flip tempts Nemo into unlocking the door, which unleashes the dreaded Nightmare King. Nemo rushes back to Morpheus' castle in time for his coronation ceremony, where Nemo is handed the royal scepter, the only thing capable of defeating the Nightmare King should he ever return to Slumberland. In the middle of a dance session between Morpheus and Genius, the Nightmare King reaches the castle and steals Morpheus away. As the partygoers search for a scapegoat, Flip and Nemo reveal each other responsible for the Nightmare King's escape, since Morpheus gave Nemo the key and it was Flip's idea to open the door.

Nemo awakens in his home, which floods with seawater and ejects him into the ocean. Genius discovers Nemo and tells him not to blame himself for all that has happened and that Flip is to blame. When the two return to Slumberland, Flip reveals that he has a map to Nightmare Land, where Morpheus is currently being held. Nemo, Icarus, Camille, Flip, and Genius set off in a tugboat in search of Morpheus. They are soon sucked into a whirlpool and find themselves in the monster-infested Nightmare Land. The five come across a group of shapeshifting goblins who wish to aid in the quest to rescue Morpheus. The Nightmare King sends a flock of fearsome and gigantic bats to seize the rescue party. Nemo attempts to use the scepter, but awakens in his bed instead. The goblins appear in Nemo's room and the group travels to Nightmare Castle by flying through a hole in the sky. However, they are subsequently imprisoned in the castle, where the Nightmare King demands possession of the scepter. Nemo soon uses the scepter to finally eliminate and defeat the Nightmare King. Slumberland celebrates the fall of the Nightmare Kingdom. Camille escorts Nemo home on the dirigible. The two share a kiss after which Nemo awakens in his room, where he apologizes to his mother for breaking his promise and trying to take the pie. Nemo's parents also agree to take Nemo to the circus. Nemo stares out the window as he reflects on his adventure.

Cast

  • Gabriel Damon (Takuma Gōno in the Japanese adaptation) as Nemo: He is a human boy living in New York City who is taken to Slumberland to be the official playmate of Princess Camille; in actuality, however, he is being summoned to be the heir to the elderly King Morpheus. He is given the key to Slumberland, but is warned by the king to leave a door with a coiled dragon emblazoned on it closed. Sadly, he opens the aforementioned door when he is tempted by Flip and goes on a quest to restore Slumberland to its rightful glory, save King Morpheus and defeat the Nightmare King.
  • Mickey Rooney (Chikao Ōtsuka in the Japanese adaptation) as Flip: He is described as a "frightful fellow" by Professor Genius, he is wanted throughout Slumberland for "having fun" (the bounty on his head is a sizeable one) and his only friend is his partner-in-crime: a bird named Flap. He tricks Nemo into accidentally releasing the Nightmare King and blames Nemo for the ruin of Slumberland. He is in possession of a map of Nightmare Land (hand-drawn and written in his own special code) and serves as the guide to the Nightmare Castle until he is replaced by the Boomps. He has a serious smoking addiction. In the real world, he is a clown in a circus that stops in Nemo's town.
  • René Auberjonois (Kōichi Kitamura in the Japanese adaptation) as Professor Genius: King Morpheus' advisor. He comes to the real world to bring Nemo to Slumberland. As a sophisticated man, he is quite punctual and prefers order as opposed to madness. He is quite a dancer, as he dances quite a bit during Nemo's coronation ceremony. In the real world, he is an organ player in a circus that stops in Nemo's town.
  • Danny Mann as Icarus: a flying squirrel, Nemo's best friend and a supporting protagonist. Icarus is Nemo's only friend from the real world. He shows great concern for Nemo's wellbeing in a sense similar to that of two siblings. He speaks a mix of both squirrel and some English. His screech is painful to the ears of the Boomps. He detests being called a "little rat" (which Princess Camille mistakes him for). Unlike other squirrels, Icarus eats human food, like cookies. His initial relationship with Princess Camille, though rough, eventually changes for the better.
  • Bernard Erhard (Kenji Utsumi in the Japanese adaptation) as King Morpheus: The sovereign of Slumberland. He has protected Slumberland for years with the help of the royal scepter: an ancient weapon of great power. Though he is a child at heart, he knows when to be serious. He has Nemo brought to Slumberland so that he may become his heir to the throne. He gives Nemo the key to Slumberland, which can open any door; however, he warns Nemo of one door with a dragon symbol emblazoned on it that must never be opened. Like Professor Genius, he is quite a dancer, as he dances alongside the Professor during Nemo's coronation ceremony. When Nemo accidentally releases the Nightmare King, King Morpheus is captured and Nemo has to go and rescue him from Nightmare Land. In the real world, he is the ringmaster of a circus that stops in Nemo's town.
  • Bill Martin (Tarō Ishida in the Japanese adaptation) as The Nightmare King: He is a demonic horned creature who rules over the realm of Nightmares or Bad Dreams. When Nemo goes to Nightmare Land to save King Morpheus, the Nightmare King has his minions capture Nemo's friends (Professor Genius, Flip and Princess Camille). He is shown to be a liar and quite temperamental as he destroys several minions for the failure of just one of his underlings (the general of his army). Among his forces are a gigantic flying stingray and a presence known as "The Nightmare". The only thing that can vanquish him is the royal scepter.
  • Laura Mooney (Hiroko Kasahara in the Japanese adaptation) as Princess Camille: the daughter of King Morpheus. Though she initially acts somewhat spoiled, she eventually grows to like Nemo. She also grows fond of Icarus (and vice versa, despite a rough start). When her father is kidnapped by the Nightmare King, she takes over as sovereign but decides to join Nemo in his quest to save King Morpheus. In the real world, she is the daughter of the ringmaster of a circus that stops in Nemo's town.
  • Greg Burson (Tesshō Genda in the Japanese adaptation) as Nemo's father
  • Greg Burson as Flap: Flip's bird companion.
  • Jennifer Darling (Mari Yokō in the Japanese adaptation) as Nemo's mother
  • Neil Ross (Hiroshi Ōtake in the Japanese adaptation) as Oompa: A member of the Boomps that befriend Nemo.
  • Alan Oppenheimer (Keiichi Nanba in the Japanese adaptation) as Oomp: A member of the Boomps that befriend Nemo.
  • John Stephenson (Masaharu Satō in the Japanese adaptation) as Oompo: A member of the Boomps that befriend Nemo.
  • Sidney Miller (Kōzō Shioya in the Japanese adaptation) as Oompe: A member of the Boomps that befriend Nemo.
  • Michael Bell (Hiroko Emori in the Japanese adaptation) as Oompy: A member of the Boomps that befriend Nemo.
  • Kathleen Freeman (Kimie Nakajima in the Japanese adaptation) as the dance teacher
  • Bever-Leigh Banfield (Seiko Nakao in the Japanese adaptation) as the woman
  • John Stephenson (Kazumi Tanaka in the Japanese adaptation) as the dirigible captain
  • Bert Kramer (Yukimasa Kishino in the Japanese adaptation) as a goblin: A hideous creature that serves as a member of the Nightmare King's army. They are sent by the Nightmare King to ensure that Nemo doesn't reach his castle and free King Morpheus. Though the goblins succeed in capturing most of Nemo's friends, they fail to capture Nemo himself and, when the Nightmare King finds out, he kills them all in a fit of rage. The only goblins to survive are the Boomps (who, in contrast to the other goblins, are not hideous and are actually good).
  • Beau Weaver (Tarō Arakawa in the Japanese adaptation) as a policeman
  • Sherry Lynn as Bon Bon
  • Guy Christopher as a Courtier and a Cop
  • Nancy Cartwright and Ellen Gerstell as pages
  • Tress MacNeille as an elevator creature
  • Michael McConnohie as an etiquette master
  • Michael Gough as a teacher
  • Michael Sheehan as a fencing master
  • June Foray as the librarian
  • Gregg Berger as the equestrian master
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