Tom Petty, from underneath the table, places his hands on the red cloth and peers at the book. He opens the book.
Animated in black-and-white, the book titled Runnin’ Down A Dream flips open to a panel of Petty sleeping in his bedroom. A short man climbs down a ladder and jumps on his bed. As Petty rubs his eyes, he tells him they have to hurry. He helps Petty with his coat and then begins to climb the ladder. Petty, half-asleep, isn’t sure if he wants to know where the ladder leads.
The short man gestures to him. He looks at the houses and buildings above him. Each steps breaks behind as they climb. A couple flies by them in a hot air balloon. The short man jumps into the moon’s mouth and gestures for him to come inside. The moon closes its mouth and Petty holds it’s nose while the ladder falls. He steps on the moon’s eye and reaches for the short man’s hand through its ear.
They run and Petty slips on the ground.
The short man deals cards on the white ground. Columns sprout up and what seems to be the Taj Mahal is behind them. They look at their cards while men in large top hats scurry between the columns. They stop at Petty and the short man. They leave and a head of man tries to grab them. Petty shakes its head. The short man and Petty then slide down the railing of a winding staircase. They roll over inside a room where the men with the large tops put them inside an Eight Ball and shoot them off in a cannon.
The Eight Ball becomes an umbrella, which flies in the air. Petty points to a rock with teepees on it. They surrender to the Native Americans. However, the Native Americans run once they see a giant clown chomp at Petty and the short man. The giant clown bites off the rock , seperating Petty and the short man.
Petty lands on top of a flower in a field and falls on the grass. Rabbits spot him. He scurries out of the grass and enters a neighborhood, where he eventually towers over the homes. He climbs on top of the Chrysler building. An anchor drops by him and the short man gestures for him to get on the rope.
On the rock, the short man and Petty see the Native Americans sitting in individual in rows on the floating gravel. The Native Americans fly on their pieces of rock to the Taj Mahal. The chief hands the short man a flute. He blows into the flute, causing smoke to fill the air.
They land back in the forest, where the man with the large hat waits for them. The Native Americans chase him away. The forest disappears and Petty shrugs. The land bubbles around them, turning pointy. Lava pours out of the volcano and they land flat on the white sheet of paper.
The ground shakes and cracks beneath them. Petty and the short man balance themselves on the pieces of rock and get submerged into it. The end of rockets form underneath them and they shoot off, becoming stars.
Petty and the short man run on the slope of the Earth. They slide and the short man falls off into space. Petty reaches for him and then struggles to hang on to the Earth, which becomes a small ball in his hand.
He lands back into his bed, twisting and turning among the stars.
Based on the Little Nemo in Slumberland comic strip by Winsor McCay, Tom Petty becomes the main character. He is beckoned into Slumberland by his companion, the short man.
A disoriented Petty trusts the short man as he enters the unknown. In Slumberland, the short man helps Petty deal with his loneliness and exhaustian due to constant travel. They play cards and try to escape Flip, who is determined to rustles Perry awake by tearing up the landmarks.
In his dream, Petty wonders if his place in the music world is secure as he slides down the staircase. The album could take off or fail, depending on the singles chosen for radio (Eight Ball). However, he has to believe his friends who tell him it’s great work and begin planning a release date soon.
To other musicians, he’s competition and he has to rely on record executives to give approval before his album can come out. However, his fans see him as larger than life. Ultimately, he is alone and has to figure things out for himself.
The adaption seems to cover the first phase of the comic strips, keeping Flip as the villian. Flip’s role is limited, though, and a short man takes his place as Petty’s guide. Slumberland, though, is individual to Petty’s mind, as he cast as the guest character for the week.
Director: Jim Lenahan Year: 1989
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