FINDING NEVERLAND has to rank high among the disappointments of this holiday
movie season. Except for a good but inconsequential performance by Johnny Depp
and for the story's tearjerker ending, there is little to recommend this
pedestrian melodrama about the life of J.M. "James" Barrie and the making of
his famous play, "Peter Pan."
Even with a fine cast (Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Dustin Hoffman and
Radha Mitchell), director Marc Forster crafts a remarkably dull production.
The movie may indeed be "inspired by true events," but I suspect real-life had
a lot more energy. With the possible exceptions of a few purposely hokey
fantasy sequences, the movie is as uninspired and lifeless as "Peter Pan" is
inspired and imaginative.
When we meet James (Depp), he is a wealthy and famous playwright coming off of
a big flop. Charles Frohman (Hoffman), his financial backer, and Mary
(Mitchell), James's wife, aren't especially concerned.
James finds his inspiration for his next play in the four boys of Sylvia
Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet), a widow he meets in a London park. Her husband
has recently died, and, with her horrendous cough, it's pretty obvious they
she'll soon be joining him in the grave. James effectively adopts them all,
which causes a not especially surprising strain in his marriage to Mary.
Only in the brief and cheesy sequences from the first production of "Peter Pan"
does the movie show much sparkle. When you find yourself shedding a tear at
the ending, it is both for the death of an individual and for a large missed
FINDING NEVERLAND runs 1:41. It is rated PG for "mild thematic elements and
brief language" and would be acceptable for all ages, although most kids will
be bored stiff by it.
Copyright © 2004 Steve Rhodes