Finding Neverland Movie Review
Johnny Depp delivers Oscar magic again in "Finding Neverland," a heartwarming and entertaining drama about the events that inspired J.M. Barrie's creation of "Peter Pan." Though the truth behind the movie is questionable, "Finding Neverland" screams "Shakespeare in Love," and we all know where that one ended up.
Depp stars as Barrie, a successful playwright who is struggling with the realization his latest play is a bomb and his marriage is on the rocks. Then, one day, he discovers Sylvia (Kate Winslet), a widow and mother of four young boys. He befriends her and becomes an integral part in the boys' lives. Unfortunately, while his vision of "Peter Pan" begins to be realized, his devotion to this second family causes trouble in other aspects of his life.
I went into the theater with limited expectations, despite excellent reviews from other critics. Thankfully, the film greatly exceeds expectations. Depp is terrific. Winslett is terrific. The little boys, especially Freddie Highmore, who plays Peter, are terrific. On top of everything else, the screenplay is almost perfect and the delivery, by director Marc Foster ("Monster's Ball"), is fun. The movie is made for adults but suitable for children; it carries a PG rating. "Finding Neverland" once again proves films can be powerful without grittiness.
It's hard to tell whether there will be Oscar nominations in this film's future. Again, Depp is great, but compared to some of his others performances, it isn't his most demanding. The movie is also excellent, but lacks the punch of darker, more serious fare. Regardless, it is enjoyable from beginning to end, even if it does lag in a few parts.
Little negative can be said about "Finding Neverland." Everything about it and in it clicks wonderfully, giving 2004 its first bonafide "Top 10" movie. By the end of the December, it won't be the best of the year, but it'll come close.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.