Hey! So I’m definitely late to this party, since this movie came out in 2004, but better late than never, right? I found this at the library and I decided it was worth a try. Johnny Depp? Kate Winslet? And about J.M. Barrie writing Peter Pan? Yeah, sounded good.
Basically, this story is about J.M. Barrie, failing playwright, trying to write something that’ll do well. One day, he meets a widowed mother and her four sons in the park and begins a friendship with them. With the boys, he plays games of pretend and lets them be children. But one of the boys, Peter, sees through all of the pretend to the realities of the world around them. Can Barrie get through to the boy, to make him see that the world can be incredible if you just believe?
I thought this was really cute! It took me by surprise initially when Depp busted out in a pretty good Scottish accent. Depp is kind of in his element with this movie because he gets to play all of these different pretend characters, like an Indian chief, a pirate, and more. The movie plays to his strengths as being an eccentric, so that was fun to see, even as he was a tight-laced playwright at the same time.
I also thought this was really cool how it showed the writing process in so many different ways. Barrie is struggling to find inspiration for his next play. This new friendship with the Davies family lets him have some fun and spend time with people who actually make him feel good about himself. So he starts writing down some of the games they play and slowly that starts morphing into Neverland. We get to see him stuck, writing random notes, and how the play came together. I appreciated that they showed how challenging writing can be. And how it can impact those around you as well.
The plot was cute. There were definitely a few times I knew what was coming next, but I really enjoyed just sitting back and watching it. And it threw a sucker-punch to the feels, so there was that too. Even when I knew it was coming, it hurt. It’s been a while since a movie made me cry, so I appreciated that it had the ability to do that.
The overall acting was really good. Kate Winslet plays a devoted mother and she was very good about playing that line between single mother and friend to her boys. She didn’t always understand them, but she always cared and wanted the best for them. And a shout-out to Freddie Highmore, the boy who plays Peter Davies. I was sitting there the whole time going, “God, this kid looks familiar. What else has he been in?” E v e r y t h i n g. That’s what. The kid’s been everything in everything from Depp’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to The Good Doctor and Bates Motel. I mean, this kid was awesome at like 10 or whatever he was when this was filmed, so it makes sense his career took off as he got older.
This is cute family fun. It’s exciting, interesting, and constantly bounces between Reality and Pretend. I liked that a lot, as someone who frequently lives in her own head. It’s nice to see that it’s appreciated and not just me.