This is a mess.
It's a mess that's not without its charms, but Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland is still pulling in several directions at once. It doesn't even feel like a movie made by committee -- a "committee" at least implies some kind of coherency of vision, however mediocre the end result may be. This movie has no focus.
Nominally based on Winsor McCay's comic strip Little Nemo in Sumberland, this went through several producers, writers and directors before eventually getting made -- including Gary Kurtz, Hayao Miyazaki (who reportedly said it was one of the worst professional experiences), Ray Bradbury, Brad Bird, Brian Froud and Chris Columbus. Moebius wrote one version of the script (he ended up with a story credit) and created some concept art.
Not surprisingly, the aesthetic here is all over the place. The character design veers from cutesy to strange to scary, often all in one scene. The pacing is odd, with punchlines and reactions either coming a beat too late or a beat too soon. The plot feels cobbled together, almost as if someone vaguely described the formula of Disney movies ("there's a princess, a hero, an animal sidekick, some songs, and a bad guy!") and this was the best everyone could come up with based on that.
Still, there's some fantastic segments -- the opening where Nemo is trying to escape a runaway train on his bed is remarkable, and there are a few nightmarish sequences as Nemo's house floods or as he and his friends try to escape demon-like creatures. Slumberland is rendered in beautifully cheerful pastels. The final battle with the Nightmare King seems like the only time Moebius' work on this movie seems to show through, but it also feels a bit out of place.
But then again, most elements of this movie feel out of place when viewed next to each other, so maybe in another way, that part does fit right in.
I want to like Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland and despite myself, part of me does admire it, even though I spent most of the movie either marveling at how odd it was and waiting for it to be over. There is something kind of fun about it, but with all the talent the movie went through in its long production history, it's too bad it didn't end up as something better.