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Wick's Review

Created May 22, 2015 09:56PM PST • Edited Jul 18, 2015 07:07PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Very Good 3.5

    The man who wrote Peter Pan meets the brothers who inspired the story in Finding Neverland. He also meets their mother, played by the fetching Kate Winslet. Julie Christie plays her mother and Radha Mitchell plays his wife, as terrific a trio of top actresses as you’re likely to find.

    Seven Oscar nominations followed for what is now viewed as a family classic, but only one was awarded. Johnny Depp got a Best Actor nom and the entire movie got nominated for Best Picture. Yet it only won for Best Score. Yep, the music carried the day, oddly enough. Kids won’t care. They’ll be too busy giggling.

    J. M. Barrie was an odd man who never left boyhood behind. It worked for him. For instance, the movie shows him placing 25 kids amidst the adults at the premiere of Peter Pan. The kids started laughing as soon as a guy in a dog costume bounded on stage. Pretty soon the adults were laughing and Peter Pan was a hit.

    More generally, Finding Neverland celebrates the wonder of theater. Set in the West End of London, with Dustin Hoffman’s stressed producer Charles Frohman greeting patrons at the theater door, it also visits the costumers and other backstage denizens. “Break a leg” is never uttered, but comes to mind.

    The whole thing is rather precious in a boys will be boys way, actually a British boys being batty boys way. As an adult, I rate Finding Neverland very good. For many young people, it no doubt rises to greatness.

  3. Great 4.0

    Johnny Depp playing the man who wrote Peter Pan is ideal casting, with Depp having no trouble getting in touch with his inner-child.

    Kate Winslet is also ideally cast as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, the mother of the Llewelyn Davies boys who inspired Barrie to write Peter Pan. Handsome woman, Kate Winslet, albeit not as glamorous as Julie Christie or Radha Mitchell. This works to her favor, as her substance shines through.

    Julie Christie’s haughty glamour remains striking, here as a woman just this side of elderly.

    Radha Mitchell comes across like a young Julie Christie, here as a writer’s social-climbing wife.

    Dustin Hoffman damn near eats the scenery as legendary producer Charles Frohman.

    The Llewelyn Davies boys are played by Freddie Highmore as Peter, Nick Roud as George, Joe Prospero as Jack, and Luke Spill as Michael.

    Ian Hart cameos as Arthur Conan Doyle, who really was J.M. Barrie’s cricket-playing buddy.

  4. Male Stars Great 4.0
  5. Female Stars Great 4.0
  6. Female Costars Very Good 3.5
  7. Male Costars Great 4.0
  8. Very Good 3.5

    Finding Neverland is more of a hit on stage than it was on screen, perhaps because it’s been turned into a musical. Yet the decidedly unmusical film does work well for adults and especially for kids.

  9. Direction Great 4.0

    Nice touch: POV goes up with a kite.

  10. Play Very Good 3.5
  11. Music Good 3.0
  12. Visuals Great 4.0
  13. Content
  14. Tame 1.3
  15. Sex Innocent 1.3
  16. Violence Gentle 1.0
  17. Rudeness Salty 1.6
  18. Glib 1.3

    Circumstantial reality has been tweaked to up the drama. For instance, the mother of the Llewelyn Davies boys wasn’t a widow when J.M. Barrie met them. The movie made her one to add romantic interest.

    Movie reality aside, a few underlying reality thoughts:

    • It took an odd man to write Peter Pan, shown here as a lonely husband who lived in his own head. Apparently he was largely asexual, truly a boy who never grew up. The movie shows this as a marriage that had lost its tenderness, complete with separate bedrooms.
    • The upper-crust life afforded a successful writer in pre-WWI London is both storybook and stultifying. Did the Barries really dress formally for dinner when the two of them dined at home?
    • Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coen Brothers movie from 2013, must have been named after the brothers who inspired Uncle Jim Barrie.
  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.8
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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