Why Slumberland Is The Family Adventure Movie You'll Want To Watch This Holiday Season

Marlow Barkley and Jason Momoa in Slumberland
(Image credit: Netflix)

As the holiday season ramps up, many holiday specials and movies premiere over the next few weeks. Some of the most anticipated movies of the year are coming out soon. The upcoming movies have something for everyone, including plenty of family-friendly movies. With so many great movies coming out, it may be hard to decide on what deserves your attention. Well, one movie to add to your holiday watch list is the Netflix movie Slumberland. 

Slumberland stars Marlow Barkley and Jason Momoa as Nemo and Flip. It’s an action-adventure Netflix movie that follows a young girl as she comes to live with her uncle, Philip (Chris O’Dowd), and discovers a dream world. This vibrant world holds the key to Nemo’s biggest dream: seeing her father again. The film is streaming on Netflix as of November 18. 

I watched Slumberland with no prior knowledge or expectations. Because Netflix has some great original films, but also a lot of not-so-great original films, I wasn’t expecting much from this movie. However, I found myself really enjoying it. 

Slumberland feels like the best kind of movie to enjoy right after eating a big meal with your family. It’s rich in visuals and tells a simple and heartfelt story--great characteristics for a holiday family movie.  

Marlow Barkley in Slumberland

(Image credit: Netflix)

Slumberland Features A Very Likable Child Heroine And Plenty Of Quirky Characters 

Slumberland is based on the Little Nemo in Slumberland comics. It strays from the source material a lot, so some fans of the comic may be disappointed in this version of the story. If you separate it from its source material, you can appreciate that Slumberland’s Nemo is a charismatic little girl. Marlow Barkley gives Nemo the maturity and playfulness that you want to see from your child heroines. 

Nemo is kind, brave, determined, and dedicated to her mission. She’s definitely channeling the child heroes that came before her, such as Harry Potter, Matilda, the Pevensie children, Alice from Alice in Wonderland, and many others.

Nemo is engaging enough to carry her big adventure herself. However, she’s paired most of the movie with Jason Momoa as Flip. Flip is a thief in Slumberland. It’s not one of the badass Jason Momoa roles that fans have come to expect from him, but it’s a fun role. He plays a character that’s extremely goofy but still a bit unhinged in a family-friendly way. 

The rest of the main Slumberland cast includes Chris O’Dowd, Kyle Chandler, and Weruche Opia. Chris O’Dowd’s character Philip is goofy in his own way as someone who takes his boring job way too seriously. Weruche Opia is a delightful opposition to Flip and Nemo as a Slumberland cop named Agent Green. Kyle Chandler is Kyle Chandler so he is instantly charming and likable in Slumberland. 

The Slumberland characters are kind of satisfyingly ridiculous. They have a familiarity to them that makes them feel perfect for a kid-friendly movie.

Marlow Barkley in Slumberland

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Film Is The Right Balance Of Silly And Sentimental 

Slumberland is not trying to win any major awards or be compared to a Shakespearean play. It's a silly film with a lot of heart. It knows that it’s trying to be one of the best kid movies this year, so it remains in that lane. There are the types of silly jokes you expect from these types of films (bathroom humor, screaming, random dancing, etc.), but it also tries to tug on the heartstrings. The reason Nemo goes into Slumberland immediately sets a bit of a somber tone to the movie.

Then there are other sad moments throughout the film, but the movie isn’t trying to break your heart. It’s trying to deliver some messages. The main messages are about family, not losing your ability to dream, keeping a healthy balance between fun and seriousness, and pulling your family close. 

Slumberland makes sure to balance laughs with sentimentality. It teaches children and adults valuable lessons, including cherishing your family. 

Jason Momoa and Marlow Barkley in Slumberland

(Image credit: Netflix)

Slumberland Is A Holiday Movie... Kind Of

Some of the most popular holiday movies follow certain patterns. They usually happen during a holiday, sometimes about a family gathering, Santa Claus could appear, maybe even a few bandits, a dream present, a huge elf, and other holiday movie tropes. Slumberland has some of these things but not in the traditional holiday movie way.

If anything, it’s a holiday movie in the way some consider the Harry Potter movies holiday films. It’s not an outwardly holiday movie but it’s clearly vying for that action-adventure holiday film spot. It seems to be aiming for families to watch it during the holidays the same way they might watch the Harry Potter franchise, the Chronicles of Narnia movies, The Polar Express, or even Paddington. 

While Slumberland's goal might be for audiences to watch during the holidays, it  doesn’t seem to restrict itself to the holiday label by using direct holiday themes or taking place during a holiday.

Marlow Barkley in Slumberland

(Image credit: Netflix)

It Teaches Valuable Lessons For All-Ages 

Slumberland focuses on a few major lessons. One of the most important is to not lose your sense of wonder and to not forget how to dream. This means that no matter what happens in your life, don’t let it break you. It also means that as you age, keep a sense of child-like adventure about the world.

Continue to explore, learn, grow, and play. Dreams and Slumberland shouldn’t be the only place where you feel you can have an everyday adventure. Slumberland also has a major message about not shutting off the world. Don’t lose yourself so much in a dream world that you forget to live in the real world. 

These messages may resonate with children old enough to understand them. They’ll definitely resonate with parents and adults who watch this movie alone or with their children. Slumberland seems to want to make sure you finish the movie and learn, or are reminded of, at least one valuable life lesson.

Jason Momoa and Marlow Barkley in Slumberland

(Image credit: Netflix)

It Feels Like A Blockbuster Movie  

I have never watched a Netflix movie and immediately thought “this would be better on a big screen.” That’s how I felt watching Slumberland. It very much feels like a movie that was made for the theater, which is slightly weird since it’s a Netflix movie.

Luckily for many, big-screen TVs exist. Slumberland has a lot of elements you expect from a big-budget Hollywood movie, including lots of special effects. This makes sense because Francis Lawrence directed Slumberland. His previous works include Water for Elephants, some of the Hunger Games movies, and Red Sparrow. David Guion and Michael Handelman co-wrote the Slumberland screenplay. Their previous works include Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and Dinner for Schmucks. 

The Hunger Games movies and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb are major action-adventure films, so it’s easy to see why Slumberland feels like it was made to play in a theater or on a big screen. I watched the movie on my laptop and really enjoyed it. However, I do think projecting it onto a bigger screen adds to the movie’s experience. 

Slumberland isn’t a perfect film, and seems to divide critics’ opinions, but, in my opinion, it’s a very enjoyable, simple, family adventure film. Slumberland is now streaming on Netflix (opens in new tab).

If you need more holiday film suggestions, check out the Cinema Blend 2022 Christmas movie guide.

Jerrica Tisdale
Freelance Writer

Spent most of my life in various parts of Illinois, including attending college in Evanston. I have been a life long lover of pop culture, especially television, turned that passion into writing about all things entertainment related. When I'm not writing about pop culture, I can be found channeling Gordon Ramsay by kicking people out the kitchen.