2023's Trippiest Sci-Fi Movie Just Quietly Landed on Max

2023's Trippiest Sci-Fi Movie Just Quietly Landed on Max
Image credit: A24

A Jungian fairy tale with Nicolas Cage.


  • HBO's Max library has been updated with a new movie starring Nicolas Cage.
  • It's an absurdist sci-fi film that reflects on modern pop culture, fame and its consequences.
  • Critics have loved it, leaving it with a score of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Nicolas Cage has had many ups and downs in his four-decade career, but in recent years he has reinvented himself for Hollywood and beyond, delivering new, high-octane performances. But instead of big-budget blockbusters, the actor has begun starring in original independent or semi-independent projects.

In November 2023, for example, he starred in a new film from A24, the surreal comedy Dream Scenario. If you admire Cage's talent, or if you like plots in the spirit of Ari Aster's work, you will definitely like this new movie. It's also available for streaming on Max.

What Is This Sci-Fi Movie About?

Dream Scenario is an A24 black comedy that is both absurdist and fantasy (or even sci-fi). Its sole auteur is Norwegian filmmaker Kristoffer Borgli, who released another absurdist comedy, Sick of Myself, in 2022. However, the script may well be reminiscent of Ari Aster's style, especially in the context of his recent Beau Is Afraid - it's worth noting that his and Lars Knudsen's Square Peg company is producing alongside A24. In addition to Nicolas Cage, the film stars Julianne Nicholson, Michael Cera, Tim Meadows, Dylan Gelula and Dylan Baker.

The plot follows college professor Paul Matthews (Cage), who teaches biology and has long dreamed of publishing his own book. And one day, fame comes to him. Only it's not thanks to TikTok, but to another, less conventional social platform - other people's dreams. Yes, just as the 'Have you ever dreamed of this man?' meme became a global phenomenon in the '00s, many people began to recognize the unassuming Paul as the man from their dreams.

But of course, sudden fame has its downside in the form of consumerism, devaluation of Paul's actions and feelings, attempts to profit from him, lack of personal space. The situation only got worse when the Paul of people's dreams suddenly began to behave violently.

A Surreal Story That Has Delighted Many Critics

Nicolas Cage's career has really taken off in recent years, with films like Mandy, Pig and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent garnering some pretty impressive critical acclaim. Dream Scenario also joins the list of Nicolas Cage films that have had critics in raptures. The film's Rotten Tomatoes score is an impressive 91%, and many have praised how original and well-executed Kristoffer Borgli's screenplay is, creating a surreal, Jungian metaphysical setting where consciousness and the world are one and the same.

Audiences were a little more reserved about the movie. Although most reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are over 3 stars, the overall audience score was only 68%. Those who didn't like Dream Scenario cited the movie's slow pacing and Cage's 'unfunny' performance.

Obviously, there is more than one underlying theme in the film, and everyone is sure to find something for themselves, whether it is a reflection on the cancel culture, the desire to be heard and seen (and how much that desire can go against our nature), the consumerist attitude toward other people, the unhealthy idealization of celebrities, or the fact that This Man from the Internet culture of the '00s could have been an ordinary biology professor trying to promote his monograph.

Dream Scenario is an excellent representative of A24's cinematic repertoire, versatile, artistic, and able to strike a balance without being too light or too dark.

As mentioned above, the film is now available on HBO's own premium streaming service, Max. In addition, Dream Scenario can be purchased or rented on most major platforms, including Prime Video, Vudu, Apple TV, Microsoft and YouTube.