REVIEW: Finding Neverland (Marc Forster, 2004)

J.M. Barrie, a playwrite down on his luck, comes into something special when he befriends a widow and her three children. His imaginative adventures with the family become inspiration to pen one of the most famous theatrical works of all time. The true story of the author of Peter Pan unfolds with Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet taking the lead.

Someone hit my snooze button. Ever since this movie got me snoring I haven't been able to dream up something creative enough to help me forget it. For nearly two hours we are listlessly bombarded with proper British accents and boring mellodrama. Jane Austen would scoff.

The film's progression is mechanical - it seems as though it were produced in a rusty factory, using scenes from former Oscar-winning films as ingredients. Barely anything can be hailed as original from the representations of thought to the typical score that reminded me of The Sims computer game.

The good? Dustin Hoffman. His performances are always deep and incredibly impressive, and here he is no different. His character is unique to his filmography, and proves even further that Hoffman is one of the greatest actors Hollywood has seen. The rest of the cast falters, however, as the two leads show us nothing of extensive merit, which is surprising for each of them, and the supporting roles such as the three boys are inhabited by incompetent, unmotivated excuses for child actors. In an era where children are constantly blowing audiences away with stellar, intuitive performances, these three boys seem to be reciting lines from their living room for their parents to clap for. Freddie Highmore is particularly laughable as he proceeds to destroy a small stage in what we are supposed to believe is a fervor, but appears more as puberty gone wrong.

In all honesty, the part of the film that elicited the best reaction from me was the end credits, because then I knew I would no longer be subject to the dull monotany. I did not know much about J.M. Barrie, and I still don't, but I can only assume he deserves better. For a film about the power of imagination, Finding Neverland is gravely unimaginative.