Reason for the Rating: Sequences of violence and action throughout.
Plot Summary: A dream "invader" must enter another person's dream to plant an idea, rather than steal information.
PopFam Recommends: This movie is rated PG-13, but due to the philosophical ideas and confusing plot, it's one you will want to see with your older children, spouse, and/or friends. Plan to spend time after the movie discussing the plot and its meaning!
When I was in college, a philosophy professor had his students write a paper titled, "How I Know Dreams Are Not Actually Reality." Having taken Philosophy at another college, I didn't have to partake in this task, but many of my friends had to think on this topic for at least a week at some point. I wonder if Christopher Nolan had to write such a paper, and if this is where the idea for Inception was born. If so, he probably got a pretty good grade.
Inception is a labyrinth of a movie that isn't easy to describe. Weaving a story is one thing, but creating a maze within a maze and getting everyone through is amazing. Inception is the story of Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), a man who enters the dreams of others to extract ideas. In other words, he's a thief. Due to a previous incident, he is currently exiled from his country and has lost his family (and longs for them with all his heart). So when Japanese businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe) offers to solve Cobb's problem as payment for a job, Cobb is interested. Until he learns the job isn't stealing information, but planting an idea. Inception. Stealing is one thing, but planting is far more complicated and dangerous. Still, Cobb can't resist when it means being reunited with his children.
Cobb begins to assemble a team of people who will assist him for this one last job. Of course he needs Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), his right-hand man. Joining the team is Eames (Tom Hardy), a "forger" who impersonates friends and family in dreams, Yusuf (Dileep Rao), a chemist who mixes some potent sedatives, and Ariadne (Ellen Page), a new "architect" who creates the landscape for the dream. All of these will enter the dream of Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) in order to plant an idea in his subconscious.
That is the basic story of Inception, but in actuality, it is incredibly convoluted and sometimes as difficult to understand as your own dreams. Which is part of the beauty of this movie. Nolan makes it hard to determine reality from dream, as the characters enter dreams within a dream within a dream...layers of reality and subconscious that are all so vivid. Of course in a dream anything is possible (as we have all experienced in our own dreams), cities fold over on themselves, a street can explode with no one getting hurt, and a bullet doesn't cause death (dying in a dream simply makes you wake up). Which makes being inside someone's dream a rather interesting, as well as unstable, environment.
Inception is a movie like no other. Yes, it has action, conflict, and suspense, but it is a unique story. You cannot leave the theatre and say, "Oh, that's just like Mission Impossible," or any other movie that has ever come out. The concept behind it is thought provoking (your ideas and secrets are hidden in your mind/dreams, so what if you could share another person's dreams?) and the way the story is told is exceptional.
Let’s Talk About It
Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:
• If you could share your dreams with others, would you? If so, who? Explain.
• Was Cobb really reunited with his children, or was it a dream?
• Cobb dealt with incredible guilt and regret and tried to "fix" it by creating a world in his subconscious. In what ways do we try to fix our past mistakes on our own? When have you experienced God fixing your past?
Bonus Question: In Inception, dreams become reality for some people, and they pursue dreams in order to escape reality. In what ways do you "escape" reality?
Note: All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.