James Barrie is an aspiring playwright in London 1903, but his new play ‘fails to impress’. His wife Mary is no comfort to him, so he finds solace in taking his St Bernard dog for a run in the park. There he meets the Llewellyn Davies boys, George, Jack, Peter and Michael, who introduce him to their recently widowed mother Sylvia. James really enjoys the company of the young boys, but he also enjoys Sylvia’s company. The two become great friends. James becomes a welcome member of the family and plays imaginary games with the boys. Peter, who seems to have suffered the most from his father's death, refuses to use his imagination. James takes this issue up as a challenge and uses it to write the story of Peter Pan.
The relationship between James and Sylvia causes some problems. James is still a married man and Sylvia's mother, who provides financial support, tries to bring the relationship to an end. Gossip is rife in the community, and questions are also raised about the relationship between James and the boys. James refuses to acknowledge the gossip and continues the relationship while writing his new book. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes the family again, as Sylvia becomes ill with a serious chest illness that leads to her death. Through all of this, James's play Peter Pan is a great success at the theatre, and its legacy remains today.
There is a little actual violence in this movie, but imaginary violence is shown when the boys play-fight as Indians and pretend to shoot guns and James pretends to be Captain Hook, prodding at the boys with his hook.
There is some violence that is not imaginary:
- The boys argue and have a real fist fight.
- Peter is very upset when his mother gets sick and smashes things in the house.
- George falls from a rope which is suspended to make him fly and breaks his arm.
Content that may disturb children
- James appears menacing as Captain Hook with a scar face, eye patch and wielding a sword.
- In James's imagination the boys fly out of their bedroom window.
- In their imaginary pirate game, a shark comes out of the water snapping its jaws.
- Sylvia is very sick and has a bad coughing fit. She eventually walks off into ‘Neverland’, which is symbolic of her dying. A funeral is held for her.
- Neverland is produced as a theatre set and some of the creatures are scary looking.
- Fairy Tinkerbell's light goes out which means she’s dying.
Children in this age group would not be scared by this movie. They could be upset by the fact that the four boys are left without a parent.
Children in this age group are not likely be disturbed by this movie.
There is a reference to the concerns about James’s relationship with the boys.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
There is mild use of alcohol in a scene where Mary Barrie drinks wine at home. In another scene, the producer smokes a cigar.
Nudity and sexual activity
Ideas to discuss with your children
Finding Neverland is based on the life of JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan and is inspired by true events. It is a charming movie set in London 1903, and relates the story of the relationship between Barrie and the widowed Sylvia Llewellyn Davies and her four sons. Johnny Depp is excellent as the gentle, childlike Barrie as are the four boys who play the children. This movie will appeal to all ages.
You may wish to discuss with your child some of the messages in this movie. For example, you could talk about endurance through adversity and the role of imaginative play in children’s lives. You could also talk about your family values in relation to a married man’s relationship with another woman and how society deals with this situation.