We've all seen these opaque, befuddling Inception trailers for months now, and everyone knew it would be mind-blowingly awesome because it's directed by Christopher Nolan, maker of the two amazing Batman movies, The Prestige and Memento. The guy is so talented he could make a blockbuster if you gave him a still camera, a monkey, a beach ball and a glitter pen.
The thing is, no matter how much you read up about the movie, you had no idea what it was about. I can't tell you how many times over the summer I've had conversations that went just like this:
Person: Hey, have you seen Inception yet?
Me: No, but it looks awesome.
Person: Yeah it does. What's it about?
Me: I have no idea. But it will definitely be awesome.
So now I've watched Inception, had my mind splattered all over the theater just like I knew it would be, and I still don't really know what it's about. That's just how amazing this movie is.
The movie is so good that I feel superior to you for having seen it though you haven't. Sort of like how your grandparents lived through the Depression and can always shoot down any sob story you've got by saying "Well, I lived through the Depression." This is the exact opposite of that. You can tell me you've won the lottery and are going to be a back-up dancer in the next Beyoncé video and I can top it with "Well, I've seen Inception."
Without giving too much away, here is what I learned from the movie:
• "Inception" means implanting an idea into someone's brain. The act is believed, in the world of this movie, to be impossible. Which, of course, means that it totally IS possible, but will take an entire 2 1/2 hour movie to prove that this is so.
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• Leonardo DiCaprio and his sidekick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, play dream-hackers who travel the globe sedating targets — secret agents and big business types — and siphoning secrets from their subconsciousness as they sleep.
• Secret agents and big business types would rather not have their dreams hacked, not only to protect their secrets but because then they'd have to wake up and explain to their wives, girlfriends and therapists why they were dreaming about Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt all night. So they purchase Norton Utilities Dream Security 7.0, which puts lots of skiing, white-camouflaged, machine-gun toting assassins in their dreams. They're pretty scary but not so great at aiming. Which is good because if they were the movie would have been a lot shorter and ended not as happily.
• Everything, and this is the most important, is not what it... wait for it... seems.
Ellen Page checks in later as a Padawan dream Jedi in training, Ken Watanabe is the billionaire businessman who bankrolls the heroes' latest expedition and Cillian Murphy, the Scarecrow in Batman Begins, plays the billionaire-heir energy corporation scion whom everyone is hacking with a dream within a dream within a dream.
Confused yet? Good, because Inception totally inceptions the idea of confusion into your brain. Along with unrelenting awesomeness and many "there is no spoon"-like moments of profound bewilderment that will get you philosophizing, arguing, pontificating, hoping for a sequel and praying you don't dream about Leonardo DiCaprio tricking you into thinking your dream is a reality so he can make you fall asleep into a second dream which you think is yours but is actually his and find out your ATM pin number and by the way my brain is melting so I should really stop.
In sum, the most important thing to take away is that I have seen Inception and you have not.
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and KenWatanabe. Written and directed by Christopher Nolan. Rated PG-13. 148minutes.
Phil Villarreal’s humorous money-saving book, Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel, is available on Amazon.