by Omar Mazariego

Before Robin Thicke had me hating on him for wife-ing the extraordinarily beautiful Paula Patton, I was actually a fan of his father’s work on “Growing Pains.” Once a week Alan Thicke was able to keep his family together and calmed whatever storm the mischievous Mike Seaver brewed up without laying finger or belt on his ass. (My ass, on the other hand, done felt rolled up newspapers, leather and plastic belts, numerous kinds of chancletas — flexible plant, that snap back like whips once you tear the leaves off, which grew out of the concrete for some reason — and the more traditional, open-hand palms.) As cool as a father Alan Thicke was, it was the Mike Seaver show. He was the star… until a blonde hair, blue eyed boy came and stole the show for a season.

Even back then when I first saw how strong his dramatic presence was on a comedy show, I knew Leonardo DiCaprio was destined for stardom. And not that weak stardom that Scott Baio (at least he inceptionsmashed Pamela Anderson) or Fred Savage was destined for (I still have a crush on Winnie Cooper), but the kind of superstardom that Johnny Deep was in for after “21 Jump Street.” Sure there’s been the occasional Alyssa Milano and Jason Bateman, whose ’80s celebrity still lingers like gold rope chains and gold fronts, but nothing like Leo or Johnny. They’re the Shelltoes of the game. Still relevant and still in demand.

And though I’ve never been a real huge fan of his work — The Quick and The Dead was eh, Basketball Diaries was disturbing, Romeo + Juliet was Tim Thomas, and Titanic was adorable at best — I always knew he could be the man when he wanted. Leo killed it in Gangs of New York, and The Departed was so butter it had people putting down the popcorn just so they wouldn’t miss a beat. But the man who was once a part of the Seaver household took it to the next level with Inception. Applaud this man and director Christopher Nolan for keeping me from looking at my date’s awesomely exposed cleavage for 2 and a half hours (a true accomplishment on its own).

Inception’s concept was similar to the ’80s cult classic Dreamscape, where people use dream invasion methods to complete whatever objective is assigned.  In the ’80s the technique was being used for high profile political assassinations, but don’t sweat that — it’s 2010 and that’s played out. In Inception, the dream invasion is being used to steal secrets from the subconscious minds of business moguls and tycoons. But this fat cat named Saito ups the ante and wants Cobb (Leo) to invade the mind of his business rival, Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy), not to steal any secrets, but to plant the idea of dissolving his father’s business once he inherits the resigns. The reward? A clean slate back in the U.S., where Cobb’s a wanted man. Why’s he on the run? Can’t say without spoiling it, but clues are given as the movie goes on as to why he can’t set foot on American soil and be safe. He should’ve got a tan and tried creeping on a boat filled with Cubans. Hey, you never know.

Anyway, aching to see his children again, Cobb agrees and leads a team of mind rapists and architects that includes Arthur (Joseph Levitt aka The Riddler in Batman 3?), and Ariadne (Ellen “Not sure if she’s hot or not” Page) through various imaginative dreamlands where life can be lived in seconds, minutes, hours and years — all in the same moment, depending how deep in the game you’re in (the science and math of it all was next level bananas). But, there’s one problem: Cobb’s past. It haunts him to no end and even poses a serious threat to his team when they’re in a dreamscape. Can’t go in it too deep blowing up the spot, but just take my word for it, it’s bad.

For two hours and change, I have to say, I was lost in Chris Nolan’s imagination. Through dialogue, cinematography and anticipation, the man who blessed the world with a classic movie which featured a psychotic clown who terrorized Gotham City two years ago once again proves that imagination and great writing can indeed create a fantasy world that can be relate-able and enjoyable at the same time. And while I dream of the day that someone can do an inception on James Dolan and convince him that if he really loves the Knicks, he’d sell them to Spike Lee and Diddy, I have to live with the reality that Chris Nolan has subjected me to: It’s only a movie.

4.5 Gangstas (out of 5)