Jason Momoa is currently going viral for a spirited appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live in which he stripped down to reveal a traditional Hawaiian malo. What some may have missed when only skimming that highlight of the interview is that he was there to promote his new Netflix fantasy film, Slumberland.
After over 20 years in show business, Jason Momoa is finally getting to appear in a comedy. Anyone familiar with his exuberant energy on social media and in interviews will know that this has been a long time coming.
Loosely based on comic strips from the early 20th century, Slumberland tells the story of Nemo, a young girl who has grown up in a lighthouse with her father (Kyle Chandler). When he is tragically lost at sea, she is sent to live with her uncle (Chris O’Dowd), with whom she has an awkward, stilted relationship.
Having grown up listening to stories told by her father, Nemo begins to find refuge in a dream world called Slumberland, where she meets a charismatic outlaw named Flip (Jason Momoa). With the help of Flip, Nemo hopes to traverse the world of Slumberland in order to find a way to see her late father again.
Viewers who are neither parents nor related to young children may be surprised by how delightful and entertaining Slumberland is. Jason Momoa has been long overdue to play a more comedic role and it is well worth the wait. As Flip, he brings a distinct energy that is equal parts playful and hedonistic (at least as far as a PG-rating will permit).
Flip has an animalistic appearance with his horns, ears, and teeth, which Momoa extends as a performer to Flip’s overall demeanour. He is pure ID, and prone to indulging in whatever is most fun in the heat of the moment, even if it means getting distracted or downright reckless on the quest he and Nemo are on together.
Whether Flip is running, dancing, or revealing the surprise ability to speak Spanish, he is always heavy on a childlike enthusiasm for making the most of his experiences. Watching Momoa let loose in a manner unlike any of his past roles is a truly joyous experience.
Nemo’s grief at losing her father is never far from the surface of the Slumberland story. In the midst of all the adventure, exploration, and traversing of Slumberland, there is a thoughtful meditation on the loss of a loved one.
Nemo’s determination to stay asleep as long as possible, given how sad she is during her waking hours, is a poignant allegory for the depression experienced by those who lose a close loved one. As Nemo is only a child, this opens up the story to serve as a healing guide for children viewers who might otherwise struggle to know how to process similar emotions.
The precise balance of the joyful comedy and life-affirming adventure, with the more solemn introspection of processing grief, makes Slumberland a fitting addition to beloved Pixar classics such as the Toy Story films or Up for being equally appealing to child and adult viewers.
Whether you are in search of a strong comedic debut for Jason Momoa or a heartfelt fantasy film perfect to watch with the whole family, Slumberland proves itself at every turn to be a must-watch.
Slumberland will be available to stream on Netflix on November 18.
For further discussion of Slumberland, watch my video review here: