(I am currently trying to clean out my DVR! I recorded this 1979 sports film off of FXM on February 1st!)
In Dreamer, Tim Matheson plays a character named Harold Nuttingham. His nickname is Dreamer. Do you think it’s possible that Harold has a dream!? Well, it would probably be a really cruel nickname if he didn’t!
Dreamer lives in small town Illinois. He loves to bowl. He spends all of his time down at the local bowling alley, where everyone knows him and they all love him and his dreams of becoming a professional bowler. His mentor is named Harry White (Jack Warden) and runs the pro shop. Harry dreamed of being a famous, champion bowler but his dreams didn’t come true. But now he can help Dreamer’s dreams work out. Everyone loves the fact that Harry is helping Dreamer. Dreamer’s girlfriend is named Karen Lee (Susan Blakely). She loves that Dreamer loves bowling but she is frustrated because everyone keeps telling Dreamer that it would be a mistake to take her to his games. Karen might bring bad luck.
Everyone in his hometown loves Dreamer but the Professional Bowling Association (which apparently is an actual thing) doesn’t love Dreamer. They don’t want to let Dreamer compete on a professional level. Or, at least, they don’t until Dreamer meets with them personally and shows off his amazing bowling skills. Then they love Dreamer.
Even though Dreamer is the new guy on the professional circuit, the audiences love him. And all the other professional bowlers love him, even when they lose to him. Everyone loves Dreamer, perhaps because everyone loves a dreamer…
Are you getting the impression that Dreamer might be one of the most positive movies ever made? Well, it is. Hardly anyone says a bad word about anyone in Dreamer. Nobody tells Dreamer to give up. Dreamer never really suffers from any self-doubt, though he does injure his thumb at one point. There is a moment of tragedy towards the end of the movie but it’s one of those tragedies that leads to better things. You can’t have light without a little darkness, though Dreamer seems to suggest that you can come awfully close.
Normally, films get on my nerves when they’re overwhelmingly positive but I can’t really complain about a movie like Dreamer. It’s just so earnest and sincere. There’s no real conflict and there’s no real drama but everyone in the movie is just so damn likable that you almost feel guilty for wishing something unexpected would happen. Dreamer struggles and fails to make bowling cinematic but Dreamer’s a nice guy so you wish him the best.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Dreamer is that it was directed by Noel Nosseck, who also directed an incredibly odd little grindhouse film called Best Friends. Best Friends, which I recommend tracking down, is almost the anti-Dreamer. Watch Best Friends to have your faith in humanity destroyed and then follow it up with Dreamer so your faith can be restored.
Or don’t. It’s really up to you.