Finding Neverland

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Rating:Rated PG for mild thematic elements and brief language
Starring:Johnny Depp, Kate Winslett
Directed By:Marc Forster

Final Grade:

What if there was a place where a boy could never grow up? What if there was a place where all your dreams could come true? There is such a place, and that place would be Neverland. No, not Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, where the only thing magical is what keeps little boys coming back and the place where the only pixie dust present are rufies in a little boy’s kool aid, this Neverland is the real thing. But how does one go about finding Neverland? In Johnny Depp’s newest flick, Finding Neverland, he teaches you how you can find Neverland yourself.

Johnny Depp plays James Barrie, who was the creator of the children’s story Peter Pan. After a recent theater flop and a marriage that is on the rocks, Barrie stumbles upon a woman (Kate Winslett) and her four children who become Muses for his next play, the story of a magical little boy who never wanted to grow up.

Depp’s latest flick is getting some great critical attention, and it has already picked up best picture nods at many of the red carpet award shows. The film is well directed and manages to nicely illustrate both the vivid imagination of Depp’s character and still keeps the film set in a world of reality. I was very afraid that this film could easily become another wild and crazy “Tim Burton-like” flick. I enjoy Burton’s work, but there is a time and place for every thing and I just don’t believed that would have worked in this instance.

What really makes this film work is once again Johnny Depp. Depp is one of the greatest character actors on the screen today. Watching Depp on screen it is easy to forget that you are watching an actor portraying someone on the screen. Few actors are able to do that without a few slip-ups. Depp Manages to literally become someone different with each and every film he does. What makes him so versatile as an actor is that once he becomes someone on the screen, he never once seems to break character. His performance shines far above anyone else in the film, making it easy to forget some decent performances from his co-star, Kate Winslett.

The story is easy to follow, family friendly, and even PG rated. Few films now days, especially the ones that are usually Oscar nominated, can boast that now days. It’s got enough elements in it to keep the adults and the young adults entertained for its two hour run time and can boast a colorful cast of characters.

But the big question is if Finding Neverland is really worth all the hype it is getting? Other than a strong performance by Depp, this film doesn’t have a lot of truly outstanding things going for it. It’s a solid flick but nothing in my opinion really makes it award worthy. Sure, I was entertained during the time I was in the theater, but I never really want to see it again. As I look back on the film the few things I remember is Johnny Depp who sounded an awful lot like Shrek, and a small but fun role played by Dustin Hoffman, who played a stuffy, old theater owner. Beyond that the film has already slipped my mind after watching it less than 12 hours ago.

All in all, Finding Neverland is a flick that is a year-end popcorn flick. It has some solid performances, a decent lighthearted story, but suffers from being one of the most easily forgettable flicks in the Oscar races this year. It’s worth checking out on video, but in the end, this Peter Pan flick is really not worth its weight in Pixie Dust.

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