Inverse Recommends

The Most Surreal Sci-Fi Movie of 2023 is Finally Streaming

He’s your dream guy. That’s the problem.

Inverse Recommends

Nicolas Cage has become so famous he’s started doing movies about his own fame, be that playing himself in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent or finally making his Superman Lives role a reality in The Flash. But in 2023, Cage took his love of a self-referential project to an entirely new level with a twisted dark comedy that feels tailor-made for his specific acting style. After months and a Golden Globe nomination, this movie is finally available for streaming on Max, and it’s definitely worth a watch.

Dream Scenario feels like the kind of movie that should be written by Charlie Kaufman or Ari Aster, but it’s actually both written and directed by Norwegian filmmaker Kristoffer Borgli. (Ari Aster did produce, though.) It follows normal biology professor Paul Matthews (Cage) as he discovers he’s suddenly begun appearing in the dreams of the public everywhere.

In a plot that echoes the years-old “Have you seen This Man” meme, Paul finds himself catapulted to fame even though he hasn’t done anything. His family is mortified, his employer doesn’t know what to do, and PR companies are quick to make him into an influencer.

However, fame’s not all it’s cracked up to be. While Paul first thinks he can use his reputation to sell the biology book he’s always wanted to write, everything changes when the dreams suddenly turn violent. Seemingly overnight, Paul goes from a familiar face to a harbinger of doom. His students are no longer comfortable being taught by him, and his own family becomes distant.

In the movie’s third act, the story goes from a traditional fable about fame to something far more sci-fi-oriented when Paul’s random ability is harnessed, allowing for an influencer house to literally do spon-con inside people’s brains. It’s this reveal that leads Paul to take control of his own fame and his own life in a striking ending that makes the almost fairy-tale-like tone of the movie feel earned and justified.

Paul’s rise is followed by a just as shocking fall that disrupts his entire life.


Nicolas Cage is in the role he was born to play as Paul, a man so mundane that Cage’s famous over-the-top acting becomes all the more powerful when it finally boils over. It’s an exaggerated story of the modern phenomenon of the “milkshake duck”: a seemingly wholesome person plucked from obscurity whose fall from fame is just as immediate as the rise.

In the era of smartphones and TikTok, the proverbial 15 minutes of fame has been more in reach than ever. But with so many people vying for it, it seems to get shorter and shorter. Is it better to be a famous has-been, or to never be famous at all? For Paul, the answer is very clear, as hard as it may be to admit it to ourselves.

Dream Scenario is now streaming on Max.

Related Tags