Midweek Myers Movie Review: Finding Neverland (2004)

It is perhaps a sad commentary on our times—or on my own twisted imagination—that when I saw the title of the film Audre Myers‘s reviewed this week, I thought it might have something to do with Michael Jackson’s troubled, unusual relationships with minors.

Fortunately, that was not the case (which would have been quite incongruous for Audre), and instead she offered up a lovely review of what sounds like a lovely film.

There seems to be a whole genre of these films now, something that might be called a “whimsical biopic.”Β  They tend to focus on harmlessly eccentric Brits who lived quirky lives and created memorable children’s book characters or the like.

Well, I’m all for them.Β  Give me a rose-tinted view of historic Britishness any day!

With that, here is Audre’s review of 2004’sΒ Finding Neverland:

For clarity, I’m a hopeless Anglophile. If I hadn’t been blessed to be born in the greatest country, I would want to be born in England. Just so you know.

Released in 2004, Finding Neverland is the story of how J. M. Barrie came to write his best known play, Peter Pan. It stars Johnny Depp. Now – before you decide you have dusting to do or anything else that will take you away from reading this; hold your horses. While I enjoyed Benny and Joon (1993) and Edward Scissorhands (1990), they were nothing compared to Depp’s acting in Neverland. This is a seasoned, reasoned, and focused film star at his very best – the top of his game. He has great control of his characterization of Barrie; he could have gone over the top, especially in the scenes with the children but he takes his character to a fine point and no further. He is never one of the children but an astute observer and interpreter of the children. We never see the crazy Depp – which can be pretty entertaining – we see J.M. Barrie rediscovering boyhood and enjoying (with the famous reserve of the English) those moments.

Story is J.M. Barrie is already an accomplished playwright, married to a woman who had an unrealistic idea of what being married to a famous playwright would be like. Radha Mitchell plays the wife well; perhaps, too well, as there is little empathy we feel toward her character. On a day like any other, Barrie has gone, alone, to the park to people-watch and make notes about things he may one day develop into a story. While he is there, he meets three young boys, brothers, and they become his focus on that day. The boys are there with their mother. The boys are continuing a game they started earlier and the youngest of the boys is actually lying beneath the bench on which Barrie is sitting. So begins a journey and a friendship. And an enduring love.

Freddie Highmore plays the middle son and his acting ability is amazing. He has three scenes in the movie that will absolutely capture your heart. We also get to see a comical character, Barrie’s business partner (the money man), played very well indeed by Dustin Hoffman. The adult love interest is played by Kate Winslet and she is endearing in this role. Julie Christie plays Kate Winslet’s mother and she definitely has the rigidness of the upper class down pat. She’s chilling – in a very propah English way, of course.

But these are just details, the bullet points so to speak. What this movie is – is charming. It is genteel, like the time in which it takes place. It is filled with fun and adventure. It reminds us of our own childhoods. It touches our heart in such a way that we feel we are in the story rather than simply watching the story. I have to tell you, when I watched this movie for the first time, I remembered watching on television, when I was a child, the very first presentation of Peter Pan and being wide-eyed when Mary Martin as Peter Pan ‘flew’ across the stage. That sense of wonder is fully part of the remarkable story and film.

I love this movie. I sincerely hope that you enjoy it as well. You can find it on Amazon Prime for $3.99 rental fee.


47 thoughts on “Midweek Myers Movie Review: Finding Neverland (2004)

  1. I’m very much afraid that the word ‘lovely’ is going to be the kiss of death to anyone considering reading the review. In place of ‘lovely’, read well-rounded, humorous, well acted and well paced.

    I also forgot to mention – J.M. Barrie gave the licensing rights to Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (an orphanage) which is still in effect to this day. If anyone wants to use Peter Pan in any way, shape, or form, licensing fees must be paid to Great Ormond. What a great, kind heart.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Duly noted re: “lovely,” but it *does* sound like a lovely film—and well-rounded, humorous, well-acted, and well-paced! Hopefully my hasty turn off phrase won’t scare anyone off from either the review or the film, although it sounds like Ponty is not a fan (of the film)! : D

      Liked by 1 person

      • Our 39 is a conundrum; he watches and enjoys those smaltzy Christmas movies, lol, but doesn’t especially like child actors or some of the ‘warm and fuzzies. To know him is to love him – and I do. He’s an excellent writer, deeply intelligent, a kind and caring friend, funny and acerbic. He’s all that and a bag of chips, lol.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for the review, Audre, but this time, we won’t be buying – Lion in Winter is now warming the shelves, waiting until Christmas.

    Neither myself nor Tina likes this film. I don’t know what Tina’s reasons are but mine are two fold – Johnny Depp and Freddie Highmore. Depp was horribly miscast as JM Barrie (for one, we have some great acting talent in this country and any number could have played the role) and Highmore is one of those annoying little scrotes who makes you grateful you never had kids of your own.

    It was going to happen sometime, Audre. One of the films you reviewed we bought on your recommendation. The last one you reviewed we’ll probably pick up too. But this one – hell no. As Meatloaf said, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • Let me reach deep into my bag of cliches. Oh! Here’s one! “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. That’s a good one. (umph …) this one was hiding under all the others: “All art is subjective”. I thought this was hiding in the bag … “Opinions are like noses; everybody has one.”

      I’ll take 2 outta 3!

      Liked by 2 people

      • πŸ™‚

        You’re right of course but Depp tends to be miscast in a lot of things. I don’t think the Pirates films helped him because every role he’s done since is an offbeat version of Jack Sparrow. That said, I think James McAvoy or Eddie Redmayne would have been good for the role of Barrie. Directors don’t think sometimes, going for star quality rather than an actor who fits the role.

        Liked by 2 people

      • You are such an astute observer in regard to film, I listen closely to what you say. Additionally, I’m not English and so, can’t say the role was miscast because it is an American production and I’m not familiar with most of the English actors that you would be knowledgeable about. LOL! I only discovered Jacoby last year! Love that old man, lol! (Last Tango in Halifax on Netflix).

        Liked by 2 people

      • That “star quality rather than an actor who fits the role” happened with Francis Ford Coppola’s _Dracula_ (1992) and Keanu Reeves. I like Keanu Reeves, but he was not great in that film (although Gary Oldman was excellent as the title character). It also has Winona Ryder, and I know how you feel about her, Ponty! : D

        Liked by 2 people

  3. If you like Derek Jacobi and you like historical programmes, order I, Claudius from Amazon. He’s absolutely superb in that.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Orlando Bloom, Kiera Knightley – collectively known as the Great North Woods! πŸ™‚

    I like a lot of Keanu’s films but they tend to be great in spite of him (except the Matrix, where he fits). His worst performance was his voice part in Toy Story 4, as the daredevil biker. They’d have been better hand pushing that toy and letting everyone else speak.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. By the way, Tyler, Tina and I watched The Untouchables last night in which you played a huge part though sadly died! πŸ™‚

    Bizarre. After seeing your various pics, I’m amazed at your close resemblance to Charles Martin Smith. I can’t be the only one who has spotted that.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. As an aside, mate, my reference to you and CMS should be seen as a complement. He goes from bookish accountant to kickass gunslinger and he looks great doing it! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

      • I’d love to have those sorts of comparisons. Unfortunately, mine are mostly linked to Mr Potato Head, when the pieces get mixed up! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 2 people

      • You’re obviously talking about the ‘new’ Mr. Potato Head. When I was about 8, I got Mr. Potato Head for Christmas. But you had to use real potatoes. Do you have any idea what happens to a potato that is not refrigerated and has been ‘perforated’ by various noses, eyes, ears, etc? The stench is absolutely sick-making. Mom never wasted a penny but that Mr. Potato Head went right in the trash, lol!!! (sorry – bin; it went right in the bin)

        Liked by 2 people

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