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Overall Rating
3.96

Awesome38.71%
Worth A Look: 36.02%
Average: 13.98%
Pretty Bad: 4.84%
Total Crap: 6.45%

14 reviews, 102 user ratings


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Finding Neverland
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"If Merchant Ivory Did Tim Burton. And Did It Well."
4 stars

The creation of art is almost as fascinating as the creation of inspiration. What lies behind the great works in history? Did God come down and touch the writerís pen? Is it an artistís personal memoirs mixed into paint and words? Perhaps itís nothing more than a drunken stupor turning ink into resentment by way of pure coincidence. Movies from Shakespeare In Love down to the exploits of Ed Wood have found both majesty and humor in breaking down the imaginations of their subjects. Finding Neverland starts down that road before discovering the true inspiration that really matters. Not the writerís, but ours.

No writer wants to see their opening night go down in shambles. But thatís precisely what J.M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) is forced to do behind the curtains, watching the kind of embarrassed grumbles reserved for a successful artistís outright failure. His producer, Charles Frohman (a perfectly droll Dustin Hoffman) is constantly watching the bottom line, but is confident enough in Barrieís abilities. More support there than at home with wife Mary Barrie (Radha Mitchell) who day-by-day is a little more withdrawn from their marriage.

One afternoon in the park, he meets the widowed Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet) and her four children: George, Jack, Michael and Peter. As a storyteller, he now has a captive audience and he delights his way into becoming a close family friend. The remnants of an impending masterwork begin to take shape as the boys applaud a kite taking flight and the stringent grandmother (Julie Christie) who may have laid the groundwork for one of the most infamous villains in literature.

Clearly it hasnít taken you four paragraphs to realize that the play Iím referring to is Peter Pan. But if youíre not that quick on the uptake, thatís OK because this is not a film based on the sole promise of knowing all the in-jokes which could be thrown at you. There are obvious tell-tale signs to whatís going through Barrieís mind, save for only small suggestions (unfounded in the film) of doing what, ironically, Michael Jackson would be accused of on his ranch, itself inspired by ďa grown man playing all-day with children.Ē David Mageeís adaptation of Allan Kneeís original play shifts the focus, sidestepping its potential disease-of-the-week triviality and becoming a counterpoint to Barrieís dreams. It may be a shame to go to sleep and wake up a day older, but thereís something beautiful in witnessing the moment when a boy becomes a man.

There are three in the film put along that path to adulthood. One is Barrie, a man who remembers the moment he left his childhood behind and is currently living through his own dreams and those of the Davies boys. The eldest one, George (Nick Roud), is right on that verge, quickly discovering that secrets his mother has been keeping from them must be dealt with in order to protect his family. Itís young Peter though who will have the most difficult time at a period when its certainly not fair of this world to ask him to grow up. 12-year old Freddie Highmore, who will rejoin Depp as the titular character in Tim Burtonís Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remake, is remarkable as Peter, wise beyond his years and heartbreakingly caught between a world of fantasy and harsh reality.

Marc Forster browbeated us to near suicide with the well-done but overtly depressing Monsterís Ball, but he sneaks our tears up on us and more naturally this time. Thereís something magical about finally seeing Peter Pan on the stage and the response people have to it. (Especially with Kelly MacDonald as the sexiest Pan ever. Is that wrong?) The double meaning of the playís words really strike us as they do the Davies family. We donít triumph for Barrie. We do for them. Forster hits the emotional jackpot with a climactic performance that some will liken to Burtonís powerhouse ending of Big Fish. This time itís mom getting her due and if you ever feel the need to reconcile with your parents, these films are a one-two punch of Niagara Falls proportions.

Finding Neverland can be a bit dry in spots, namely within Barrieís troubled marriage, but it more than makes up for it with the waterworks it delivers. Just make sure you leave before the unnecessary Oscar-chasing closing song by Elton John. When Hoffmanís producer says about the theater, ďThe critics changed it. They made it important,Ē it sounds like an easy chuckle, suggesting that our potential stuffy attitudes have taken the ďplayĒ out of the play. But what could be more important than the fantasy of an alternate universe, if only for a couple of hours? These days there are too many choices and so many undiscovered worlds just waiting out there, that it would be a shame to waste them on something routine and stale. Peter Pan opened up many of these worlds for children and adults around the world. Filmmakers have been including it as vital parts of their stories for years from E.T. to The Day After Tomorrow. Hoffman also says ďwe dream on a budget.Ē Thereís no sense on families wasting that budget on Scooby-Doo Deux. Bring them to see Finding Neverland instead, because if you canít get inspired by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, you certainly have no imagination.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10919&reviewer=198
originally posted: 11/19/04 16:17:57
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Leeds Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Leeds Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/19/09 Liberty Man Great story and Depp as he should be. Enough with the pirate already. 5 stars
10/06/09 Bryony An amazing film I cry everytime lol Kate & Johnny both did an AMAZING job I love it!!! 5 stars
12/11/08 charles surmion its so cool i want to try and try... 4 stars
9/26/08 Shaun Wallner Great story! 5 stars
5/16/08 PAUL SHORTT TUGS AT THE HEARTSTRINGS LIKE A TOE-FINGERED HARPIST 1 stars
5/09/08 Courtney This movie is corny, boring and has expected 'twists' 1 stars
2/17/08 SamanthaP Johnny and Kate Winslet were amazing as always, and it was super sad at the end. 5 stars
9/05/07 John Just amazing 5 stars
8/11/07 Tiffany Losco Boring, I didn't like it. 2 stars
5/16/07 mia It was a sad story that contains inspiring messages 5 stars
1/15/07 jeannie karlsen Looking at Johnny Depp was enough of a reward, plot was however, boring 4 stars
11/11/06 Bill Hi all 4 stars
9/08/06 Thomas Semesky FINDING NEVERLAND! Fine me a plot first. Boring!! 2 stars
7/13/06 EZ To bad there is no 0 stars rating 1 stars
6/11/06 Dave Webber I thought this was totally maudlin and manupulative, 2 stars
5/22/06 Diane P very charming, my daughter enjoyed it as well 4 stars
5/06/06 Ashley Hinz I don't like Johnny Depp, but I enjoyed this. 4 stars
2/10/06 Samantha A nice twist for adults on the classic story, while children might find it boring 4 stars
10/14/05 Yves Caraan I didnt enjoy watching 2 stars
10/12/05 Jennifer Free You would think that it was for kids, but they were totally bored, and so was I. 3 stars
9/20/05 Jonathon Holmes perfect filmmaking at its finest 5 stars
9/14/05 Koopy the Loopy I love Kate, but this was a little too boring 3 stars
9/13/05 ray mero Two of the boys he helped raise committed suicide...the movie is a sappy and demented. 1 stars
8/26/05 EZ Let's go make make the worst play ever while talking with the worst accent possilbe 1 stars
8/20/05 Sara B. Slow to get going, at times oddly NOT engaging. Still has charm for Depp fans. 4 stars
8/12/05 yuko brilliant actors and story 5 stars
7/26/05 Laura Lee Macleod Kinda boring...but Depp is a magnificent actor 3 stars
6/17/05 Andy Far better than the professional critics suggest. Switch off the analysis, let it happen 4 stars
6/17/05 DM Sappy in places but very well-acted. 4 stars
5/29/05 Jake Good film but not oscar worthy 4 stars
5/22/05 Cham Great acting, pretty moving, way too sappy for words. 3 stars
5/05/05 Kristi Achilleos very good movie! pleasant to watch :) 4 stars
5/01/05 Steve Newman Absolutely excellent. Some moments makes you feel uneasy - awesome 5 stars
4/29/05 Charlie Crappy ending, but an interesting plot and story. 3 stars
4/29/05 kathleen4691 A great family film...for parents who want their kids to learn about extramarital affairs. 2 stars
4/23/05 Kim Great fantasy. 4 stars
4/20/05 Sharon Fernando Excellent glimpse into Peter Pan's inspiration. 4 stars
4/17/05 David Siegel Better than the professional reviews. A good background "study". 4 stars
4/09/05 Denise wonderful 5 stars
4/05/05 killbill03 If you can buy into it, you may really like it. 4 stars
3/28/05 Charlene Javier Gets better after repeated viewings... 5 stars
3/28/05 Emma Excellent, one of my favourite films. 5 stars
2/20/05 lj wouldn't see it twice 3 stars
2/19/05 Captain Craig I didnt think truly great film could be made anymore. Every aspect was suberb! 5 stars
2/16/05 Melody Arneil One of the few films of 2004 that moved me to tears. LOVED IT! 5 stars
2/14/05 Angela Saunders Great movie, definite must see for a Peter Pan fan! 4 stars
2/11/05 H.P. Lovecraft I expected a little bit more for a best picture nominee. 3 stars
2/05/05 axe Like "Pan", better experienced in an audience with children. 4 stars
2/05/05 Melissa Johnny Depp - couldn't have been better! 5 stars
2/05/05 Ann Klonicki Johnny Depp is superb 5 stars
2/04/05 Mirella Rodriguez Who doesn't love Johnny? Great movie, great acting. 4 stars
2/04/05 craig varney can't find a better recent movie 5 stars
2/04/05 Debbi Kalstein interesting interpretation 5 stars
2/03/05 Clifford C Gardner Not great, but worth your time 4 stars
2/01/05 Danita Berg Beautiful....brought tears to my eyes. 4 stars
2/01/05 Gladys Paradowski Didn't achieve its objective, whatever that was. 2 stars
2/01/05 Lynda Eby Love Johnny Depp! 4 stars
2/01/05 Elena this was nice but everything shown was just so obvious and not deep 4 stars
2/01/05 Alison Mosbeck I don't see how anyone could NOT like this...a very imaginative film 4 stars
1/30/05 Charlene Javier Completely magical! 5 stars
1/30/05 malcolm Depp was a little too understated, but the film was great 4 stars
1/30/05 Garnet Leib So-SO 3 stars
1/30/05 Marilyn not to exciting 3 stars
1/30/05 Fred Pellerito Even though I'm a big Johnny Depp fan, this movie was nothing more than average 3 stars
1/29/05 Lisa Clarizio Johnny Depp's an excellent actor but just mediocre in this movie 2 stars
1/27/05 Roz How good is Johnny Depp?!! Charming story, great supporting cast, excellent art direction. 5 stars
1/27/05 Richard R. Lowe Better than awesome. Absolutely brilliant. 5 stars
1/16/05 Jamy I LOVE JOHNNY DEPP! He is a great actor and awsomeinseration to me in alll of his movies. 5 stars
1/14/05 green gremlin a superior "Shadowlands". Johnny Depp was simply awesome 5 stars
1/12/05 Heather Take some Kleenex 5 stars
1/10/05 KCobain A real treasure. Very powerful and emotional. 5 stars
1/06/05 Elizaveta A little too much like "Shadowlands." Still, its good but not great. 3 stars
1/05/05 Helen Bradley Poor editing too slow paced great stars failed by bad script too long 2 stars
12/30/04 The Mockingbird perhaps only too sweet for this cynical world. Wonderful acting all around 4 stars
12/27/04 efrain great movie. one of the best of 2004 5 stars
12/27/04 Suzz very fine acting; interesting storytelling 4 stars
12/14/04 A F Beautiful Film. Almost had some tears. 5 stars
12/08/04 Judy This film thrilled and moved me by its emotional honesty. 5 stars
12/08/04 Titus Nothing earth shattering, but a good (emotional) movie. 4 stars
12/06/04 Ron Cisco Moving, brought me to tears, the actor who plays 5 stars
12/04/04 Denise johnny rules 5 stars
11/27/04 Zohran Mamdani Amzing, brought me to tears! 5 stars
11/27/04 Destiny Pifer Wonderful movie! 5 stars
11/27/04 ajay good movie, but the ending went on about 10 minutes too long. 3 stars
11/26/04 Rudy Depp should have done more drugs in this film. 1 stars
11/25/04 Roger Yes, it's VERY good. 5 stars
11/25/04 T. Maj Conventional movie bio; Johnny Depp always worth watchoingnj 4 stars
11/24/04 Geoff Very good movie. Touching performances all around 4 stars
11/23/04 vagile Wonderful except for heavy handedness in last scene 5 stars
11/21/04 Kristina Williams You gotta love Johnny? 5 stars
11/20/04 kyla robertson Excellent movie. Johnny Depp is Amazing 5 stars
11/20/04 Tanaporn yes,it 's good 3 stars
11/19/04 matt wakeman Beautiful and tender. 4 stars
11/12/04 Paul Gaughan Absolutely fantastic ! I thought Winslett was brilliant as the Widow. Depp as good as ever 5 stars
11/12/04 Janet Wyatt Great drama lifted with flights of fancy. All the actors were superb. 4 stars
11/11/04 alex Disappointingly ordinary - clunky script and generally dull 2 stars
11/09/04 janyne mason i think it has a crap storyline, otherwise ok. 3 stars
11/08/04 Camdyn Nix Breath taking 5 stars
11/08/04 Emilia This film will be hailed alongside other Holiday Classics such as It's a Wonderful Life, et 5 stars
11/08/04 Karen Minton Terrific movie, Johnny Depp great 5 stars
11/07/04 Buffetblvd This film was magnificent - don't miss it!! 5 stars
11/03/04 Bronwen Johnny Depp is amazing. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  12-Nov-2004 (PG)
  DVD: 22-Mar-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  01-Jan-2005




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