out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
Return to Never Land
Starring: Blayne Weaver, Harriet Owen|
Director: Robin Budd
RunTime: 70 Minutes
Release Date: February 2002
Genres: Animation, Kids
|*Also starring: ||Corey Burton, Jeff Bennett, Kath Soucie, Andrew McDonough, Roger Rees, Dan Castellaneta, Spencer Breslin||
Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied
There's something to be said for the retro cartoons the
ones we've seen before the fancy hi tech stuff came around
to give us great works like "Shrek," "The Iron Giant," and
"Chicken Run." As "Return to Never Land" plays just after
the classic 1948 Disney short "Pluto's Fledging" (an inane
animation that sees the titled dog teach a newborn bird how
to fly), we note that while that style of animation is awfully
similar fifty-four years later, the dialogue is contemporary, the
silly cartoon violence is toned down, and there's a real plot.
In fact as Mr. Pan takes aim on the evil Captain James Hook,
the leader of a band of pirates intent on capturing buried
treasure, we feel like cheering the lad just as we root for, say,
Adam Sandler's character in "Waterboy" to make that
touchdown in the final seconds of the game.
Truth to tell, though, there isn't a double entendre to be
found to delight the adults in the audience, so don't expect
even a "Jimmy Neutron" this time around. Still, the World
War II scenario is a daring gesture, and as the bombs fall on
London we wonder whether the MPAA thought a bit about
upping the rating to PG. The theme of "Return to Neverland"
is similar to that of the other Peter Pan episodes: Only
believe. Have faith, trust, and pixiedust, don't ever grow up,
and you'll get along just fine even in parlous times whether
they be London in 1941 or New York City in 2001.
Wendy has grown up and had a couple of kids of her
own which means that while she may still think of Peter and
tell stories to her own about her adventures with the cocky
boy way back when, Peter himself would scarcely be caught
dead with her or any other adult for more than a few
moments at a time. As Wendy's younger daughter Jane
(Harriet Owen) falls asleep just after her dad is trucked off to
the front amid a tearful family goodbye, she thinks she's
dreaming just like Dorothy in Kansas. It's up to Peter, whom
she meets along the way, to convince her otherwise. A non-
believer, her atheism threatens the life of Tinker Bell, whose
lights are dimming as though she needed the good wishes
of otherwise just to stay alive. While Peter (Blayne Weaver)
tries desperately to convince Jane to get over her denial, he
and his band of Lost Boys must fight off the treacherous
Captain Hook (Corey Burton), who is intent not only on
recovering the treasure but on doing away with the pesky
crew of bumptious brats who associate daily with their
childlike and childish leader.
Usually a critic does not judge a movie by audience
reaction, but when cartoons are the order of the day, we do
well to listen to its effects of the 4-to-8 year olds in the
theater. Save for a one-year old being baby-sat by his 7-
year-old sister, the kids seem enraptured by the goings-on.
That's good enough for me.
Copyright © 2002 Harvey Karten
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