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Finding Neverland

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Finding Neverland

Starring: Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet
Director: Marc Forster
Rated: PG
RunTime: 106 Minutes
Release Date: November 2004
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Julie Christie, Nick Roud, Radha Mitchell, Dustin Hoffman, Joe Prospero, Freddie Highmore, Kate Maberly, Luke Spill, Kelly Macdonald, Tony Way

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

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 opportunity.

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

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