Finding Neverland

DVD Reviews | Apr 3rd, 2005

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Starring Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Dustin Hoffman, Julie Christie, Freddie Highmore, Radha Mitchell
Written By: Allen Knee/ David Macgee
Directed By: Marc Foster
Studio: Miramax/Disney
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The story of well known playwright, J.M. Barrie (Johnny Depp), and how he came about the famous play “Peter Pan.” Struggling to find his imagination to create a successful play, Barrie meets a widow and her four sons which inspires him to write the play we all know as Peter Pan. From the children, and their mother, Sylvia (Kate Winslet), J.M. Barrie falls in love with the entire family, soon neglecting his own wife. Finding Neverland is about a man trying to find his place in life, through writing and being a part of a family, at the same time teaching us all how to be a kid at heart, and to enjoy what is most important in life.

J.m Barrie was coming off his latest disappointing and disastrous play when he first met Sylvia and her four boys. Meeting in the park, where Barrie enjoys to write, he finds happiness and inspiration as he spends time with the Davies family. James M Barrie sees that that the children have been through a lot already. Having lost their father, they have had to grow up pretty quickly and deal with a lot. James, during these times, tries to act like a father figure but at the same time, not to try and replace their dad. He also wants them to feel their age, and to just be a kid. So much sadness and heartache, is not good for the soul and Barrie tries to replace that with enjoyment, adventures and imaginations. James bonds the most with young Peter, and through him, he starts to create these magical tales that would soon become the world-famous play ‘Peter Pan.’ Finding Neverland also stars Dustin Hoffman as Charles Frohman, as Barrie’s producer and owner of the theater, which house all the plays. Hoffman is somewhat knowledgeable of the story already, because he has appeared in the Peter Pan sequel, Hook, and played the evil Captain Hook. Hoffman is great as Frohman. Here is a man who is beyond rich and loves the theater. He also stands behind his writers and actors.

J.M. Barrie has had a few successes but his latest flop was being taunted as Barrie’s greatest work and then falls short with audiences. Still, Frohman knew James had another story up his sleeve, but never realized Peter Pan would go on to be world-famous. Dustin Hoffman also delivers some light humor to a generally emotional movie. Julie Christie plays Sylvia’s jealous mother and is out to break up the friendship of the Davies and James. She feels resentment from the children and her daughter and wants to share in moments that the kids enjoy with James and their mom. In some ways, Barrie bases Captain Hook off her. Also feeling jealously is Barrie’s wife, Mary (Radha Mitchell) who would soon leave James because of the lack of attention, and love that she feels she deserves. James is disappointed but at the same time he has grown such a fondness for Sylvia and her family that he is able to move on. At the same time, the playwright is being written, Sylvia starts to feel ill. The boys are scared and upset because they are afraid of losing another parent. Sylvia feels the same way. She agrees to take medicine but does not want to know what sickness she has. Soon, the play opens and opening night could not go any better for James and the whole show. Credit some of the success to the wonderful idea James has of inviting orphans to the show and having them scattered across the snooty, rich audience. After all, Peter Pan is about orphans. Having children in the audience makes the play more lighthearted and enjoyable for the whole family. I am sure the whole story of James M Barrie and the Davies are not widely known, but this gives the viewer a great look at how J.M. Barrie worked and how he came about such a magnificent play.

Special features on the disc include Outtakes, Deleted Scenes, and Feature length audio commentary by Director Marc Foster, Producer Richard Gladstein, and writer David Macgee. Also included in the extras are several Featurettes including “The Magic of ‘Finding Neverland,’ which takes a look at the actors and how the story was developed and J.M. Barrie and his creation was formed. ‘Creating Neverland’ explores the visual effects in the story which were cool to check out because some aren’t that noticeably. I enjoyed the outtakes because most of the film is serious and to watch the bloopers and flubs in the movie you know it wasn’t all serious, all the time. One blooper in particular, which involved Johnny Depp and the director, hiding a human fart noise machine while the kids and other actors did a dinner table scene. It was funny to see the expressions on everyone’s face.

Finding Neverland was nominated for several Academy Awards this year and winner of Best Original Score by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, and I was glad to see it had won. I absolutely love the score to this film. The film was a wonderful look at how J.M. Barrie lived and how his masterpiece was created. Definitely not easy, Barrie hung in there and developed a magical story about children who do not want to grow up and to live in on a mysterious island where no one gets old. J.M. Barrie’s personal life was also brought to light in this movie, with a crumbling marriage, and his love for another family, James did not have it easy. Respected, and praised, Barrie would be known for Peter Pan for centuries. Personally for me, I loved Finding Neverland. It was a sweet movie that all of us should see.

-Deleted scenes with optional commentary
-Feature Commentary with Filmmakers
-The magic of Finding Neverland
-Creating Neverland
-On the Red Carpet

-ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 CC
-SPANISH: Dolby Digital 5.1
-FRENCH: Dolby Digital 5.1

-Widescreen 2.35:1 Color (Anamorphic)

Spanish, French

Favorite Scenes: Play in the Park, Pirates, Opening Night, “..This Is Neverland..”, James and Peter share a final moment on the park bench.
Rating: PG
Running Time: 101 minutes
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