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Now in our sixth calendar year!
PCR # 255  (Vol. 6, No. 6)  This edition is for the week of February 6--13, 2005.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Finding Neverland"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Four stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

"Finding Neverland"
 by Mike Smith
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Starring: Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Freddie Highmore, and Dustin Hoffman
Directed by: Marc Forster
Rated: PG
Running Time: 1 hour 46 mins

Normally I wouldn't review a film that has been in theatres for two months. But, with the Academy Awards less then three weeks away, I realized that "Finding Neverland" is the only film nominated for Best Picture that I hadn't reviewed. Better late then never.

"Finding Neverland" tells the story of J.M. Barrie (Depp), a little known author and playwright living in early 20th century London. His latest play has not been well received, but his backer (Hoffman) tells him to keep on writing as he has kept the actors on salary. One day while sitting in the park, he comes across a group of brothers playing by themselves. While young Michael, George and Jack gravitate towards Barrie and the tricks he is doing with his dog, young Peter (Highmore) is much harder to amuse. Barrie soon learns that the boys' father has recently passed away and that they now live with their mother, Sylvia (Winslet). Ill herself, Sylvia is assisted by her very set-in-her-ways mother (Christie). The boys soon find themselves enjoying great adventures in Barries' back yard. One day they are cowboys chasing a renegade Indian. Next day they may be digging diamonds out of a deep mine in Africa. All of these adventures spring from Barries' mind and he slowly comes up with an idea for a new play about a group of children that go on an amazing adventure. That play is Peter Pan.

What a beautiful film this is! Director Forster, with the help of cinematographer Roberto Schaefer, does a fine job of seamlessly blending backyard games into full blown fantasy sequences full of pirates, crocodiles, Indians and a strong belief in fairies. The cast is first rate. Depp, who has earned his second consecutive Oscar nomination for his work here, captures what must have been the best part of Barrie. As the original kid who wouldn't grow up, Barrie has a joy for life and imagination that is usually reserved for children. A kind man, he slowly adopts Sylvia and her family as part of his own. Winslet is very good as a mother whose health won't let her spend as much time with her children as she would like. Christie, still beautiful at age 63, has a quiet but fierce manner about her. Hoffman, who played Captain Hook in Steven Spielberg's Peter Pan film, "Hook," delivers his usual fine performance. The jewel in the cast is 12-year-old Highmore. Not since Henry Thomas in "E.T." has such a young actor held the screen with such emotion. His work with Depp is spot on perfect. In fact, they worked so well together that Depp recommended Highmore to director Tim Burton and will next be seen with Depp in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

I don't think "Finding Neverland" will win the Oscar this year. But I do agree it is a worthy entry in the contest. Like I said, better late then never.

On a scale of zero to four stars I give "Finding Neverland"  Four stars

This week's movie review of "Finding Neverland" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2005, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.