Finding Neverland (2004) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –

Ever since the days of Ancient Greece in which Homer wrote The Odyssey, writers who struggled to compose beautiful and compelling narratives often turned to a muse for inspiration. The first book (section/chapter) of Homer’s epic poem actually begins with Homer calling upon the Muse so that he would recount the tale of Odysseus. J.M. Barrie is best-known for creating Peter Pan, but how did he do it? The film Finding Neverland attempts to answer that question in this delightful family film that ultimately become one of the best films of 2004.

A Toast

This film actually shares a lot of parallels with the 1998 “Best Picture” winner Shakespeare in Love because they both deal with famous writers who write their masterpieces after their chance encounters with women who inspire them. Kate Winslet shines as the mother of four rambunctious boys who inspire J.M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) to write Peter Pan. This film also contains what is perhaps Johnny Depp’s greatest performance (even though some might argue that Depp’s best role was as Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise or as Sweeney Todd).

Coincidentally, Johnny Depp received “Best Actor” Academy Award nominations for playing all three of those previously mentioned characters even though his career appears to be heading towards a downward spiral (as of 2018). Finding Neverland continues to endure as a beautifully realized period drama filled with fanciful costumes, splendid production design, and an Oscar-winning score that essentially captures the magic associated with Peter Pan himself. This is also one of the few family films to receive a “Best Picture” nomination from the Academy, and that recognition definitely showcases the greatness of this film.

Verdict

Finding Neverland is a great example of why people go to the movies. Given the bleakness of reality, films oftentimes provide an escape for people who just want to get away from the real world for a few hours. No one is a child forever, and change might be the only constant, but great family films endure because of their entrancing and mesmerizing qualities that are oftentimes associated with child-like innocence. Peter Pan remains an iconic figure within both literature and film, and Finding Neverland provides insight into the main who imagined that beloved character.

Finding Neverland (2004) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: every time Tinkerbell is mentioned

Drink a Shot: for every magical moment (and double those shots for every flying sequence)

And Slowly Enjoy Your Favorite Drink: as the luscious score reminds audiences that anything is possible with faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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