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Rated PG · 2004
Johnny Depp's penchant for playing fruits and nuts is on proud (if subdued) display in his portrayal of Peter Pan's creator, James Matthew Barrie. Inspired by the young sons (particularly terrific Freddie Highmore) of widowed Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet, strangely steely), Barrie neglects his despairing wife (Radha Mitchell), annoys the lads' grumpy grandmother (Julie Christie, still sexy, even though she never changes clothes), and bewilders his curmudgeonly producer (Dustin Hoffman, mumbling and loitering) -- all for the sake of priceless youthful whimsy. Hardly an accurate biography, the film is more a fantasia upon reality, the very stock-in-trade of Barrie himself. It's a peculiarly chaste and subtle project for director Marc Forster (Monster's Ball), sometimes soggy and maudlin, with the "heartwarming" score ratcheted up to 11 (and way beyond), but gradually it rises from the syrup to become remarkably touching. Does anyone actually find Neverland? Yes, happily, they do, and these days at the movies we couldn't ask for a better guide than Depp.



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