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Neverwas (2005)

Aaron Eckhart , Ian McKellen , Joshua Michael Stern  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Aaron Eckhart, Ian McKellen, Brittany Murphy, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange
  • Directors: Joshua Michael Stern
  • Writers: Joshua Michael Stern
  • Producers: Aaron Eckhart, Amanda Mackey Johnson, Bruce Toll, Carsten H.W. Lorenz, Deboragh Gabler
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Miramax
  • DVD Release Date: July 3, 2007
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000OZ2CP2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,583 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Neverwas" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Weaving together fantasy and reality, past and present, Neverwas is the enchantment-filled, life-affirming tale about a young man (Aaron Eckhart) who finds out his childhood fantasyland may really exist. Searching for insight into his father’s (Nick Nolte) life and the magical place he wrote about in the beloved children’s book, Neverwas, psychiatrist Zach Riley (Eckhart) takes a job at the institution where he lived on and off. Once there, Zach meets Gabriel (Sir Ian McKellen), a patient whose alternate reality is startlingly close to the world his father created. Featuring a critically acclaimed all-star cast that also includes William Hurt, Jessica Lange and Brittany Murphy, Neverwas is a magical and moving journey of discovery you won’t soon forget.

A stellar cast buoys Neverwas, a 2005 feature written and directed by Joshua Michael Stern. And what a lineup it is. Aaron Eckhart stars as Zach, a psychiatrist who abandons his cushy gig at Cornell in order to work at a funky, underfunded New England institution run by Dr. Peter Reed (an underused William Hurt), where his own father (Nick Nolte, seen in various flashbacks), who wrote the wildly popular children's book named in the title but was also a manic depressive, was briefly ensconced before killing himself, leaving his young son burdened with the grim memory of finding the body. Ian McKellen is Gabriel, a patient at the nuthouse in question who knows a good deal more about Zach's dad than Zach does; Jessica Lange is his boozy, annoying mother; Brittany Murphy is his love interest; and other patients include Michael Moriarty, The Departed's Vera Farmiga, and Bill Bellamy. Their respective agents must have had a field day determining the billing order, but Neverwas, which bears a passing resemblance to Finding Neverland and The Fisher King, doesn't seem to know what kind of picture it wants to be. It's not family fare, as themes like suicide and mental illness are too dark and complex for kids. It's not a romance, nor is it a fantasy, a father-son drama, or an adventure. Not that it doesn't have its strong points: McKellen lights up the screen every time he appears on it, the cinematography is often quite lovely, and the overall notion of life and art as a circular form, as in Zach's having to figure out how he fit into both his dad's book (the hero is a boy named Zachary) and his real life, is intriguing. On balance, however, Neverwas is a whole that is disappointingly less than the sum of its parts. --Sam Graham

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making the Ordinary and the 'Unordinary' Extraordinary October 1, 2007
NEVERWAS, a little miracle of a movie written and directed by Joshua Michael Stern, is an allegory, a fairytale, a dissection of the impact of mental illness on parents and children, and story of compassion, believing, and blossoming of character that was created with a sterling ensemble of actors in 2005, failed to find a niche in theatrical distribution, and went straight to DVD - becoming one of those limited release films that is very elusive even in the megavideo stores. The reasons for this relative anonymity are not clear, but film lovers will do well searching out this little gem: the rewards are immediate gratification and long lasting satisfaction.

Narrated by Ian McKellan who plays a major role in the film, the story concerns the return of psychiatrist Zachary Riley/Small (Aaron Eckhart) to an obsolete mental institution named Millhouse, the hospital where his author father T.L. Pierson (Nick Nolte) ended his days in suicide, having suffered from bipolar syndrome. Zach wants to discover secrets about his father, why his father's book 'Neverwas' has been so disturbing to Zach, and to offer good medical treatment to those patients living in the obscure hospital run by the kindly but enigmatic Dr. Reed (William Hurt). Zach is buoyant, greets his new job with joy, and works with various patients in group and individual therapy (the group includes well developed characters portrayed by Alan Cumming, Vera Farmiga, and Michael Moriarty, among others) and encounters the apparently mute Gabriel Finch (Ian McKellan), a delusional man who believes Zach has returned to break the curse preventing his return to his imaginary kingdom of Neverwas.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My new Favorite Movie July 26, 2007
I am a huge movie watcher, and I must say this is one of the best written, directed, acted and filmed movies I've seen in a while. It had me worried as I didn't know how the movie was going until the end. And I think it is a beautiful movie and of course Ian Mckellen is incredible. The one mistake I made was thinking it was a fantasy, and it is not. If you go into this with more of a feel-good dramatic movie that is very cleaver in its filming, you can really appriciate it. Then watch it a second time, after you know the story and see how cleaverly it is written. This is a wonderful movie
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely wonderful! August 21, 2007
By Jean
This was one of the best films I have ever seen. I, probably like many others began watching this film thinking it was a fantasy children's film, but soon realized it was much more. Having just finished a semester of mental health nursing made this film was even more facinating. It was wonderfully acted, directed and filmed. I thought it was one of Nick Nolte's best performances and I love anything Ian McKellen is in, he's always wonderful. But I think what I really loved about this film was that it touches on innocence, fantasy, reality, the very human elements that many people overlook in their fast-paced busy lives, what lies behind some mental illnesses, and what is labelled (sometimes mistakenly) as mental illness. This story touched on so many elements that I know I have probably missed some. I intend to watch it several more times and fully expect to see stuff that I missed on the first go-around. And, although it has it's sad moments, it has a happy ending. For those folks out there who didn't like the film or were bored...I think they just didn't "get it"...or maybe they didn't want to "get it".
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Despite mixed reviews... August 6, 2008
By Jrobby
...I decided to give this movie a chance. The most common complaint I read about this movie is that it never sticks to one genre. I must be the odd woman out, because I thought this worked well for Neverwas. If it had only been a movie about mental illness, it would have been too depressing. If it had only been about the fairy tale, it wouldn't have been as meaningful. My advice is to let the movie be what it is. It is a mix of romance, father-son bonding, mental illness, mystery, and fantasy. The always superb Aaron Eckhart carries the movie very well, and he is supported with excellent performances by William Hurt, Brittany Murphy, and Ian McKellan. I am glad that I gave this movie a chance, and I feel that the $5 I paid for it was money well spent.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I adore it August 9, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Why it never was released I can't imagine. Excellent performances by seven major stars; Eckhart and McKellen and exquisite together. Some script flaws and minor embarrassing moments are entirely overlookable in light of the heart and power of the tale. One is never sure where it is taking you; fantasy meets psycho-thriller. I've seen it six-plus times.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth watching June 2, 2008
A good way to spend a couple of hours (108 minutes to be exact). The cast is definitely a who's who of actors, but thankfully, they don't jump all over each other. I thought the acting was, for the most part, subtle and thoughtful. Ian McKellan was stunning in every scene, but I think you will find a lot of substance in Nick Nolte's performance as well!! The juxtaposition of reality, fiction, and delusion was fascinating and was displayed as well as could be in this medium.

While the movie has some similarities to others, they are small enough not to distract... The story leaves us with some positive ideas about uncomfortable subjects and just maybe stretches our own boundaries of acceptance.

If you like to challenge yourself while being entertained and see some great acting at the same time, I definitely recommend.

All the best,

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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommend
Loved seeing Brittany Murphy,such a lovely woman,sad she died so young.Great story.Loved Sir Ian's narration. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Ellen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great message.
Published 3 months ago by Charles S. Seaver
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by Mary Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it
This was an all around good experience. Additionally it's a fabulous emotionally charged, delightful mystery. The DVD in good condition too
Published 4 months ago by Marcella
5.0 out of 5 stars Insanity or reality? Good family film
Quick Overview: Zachary takes on a job working at Millwood. An institution his father was held at. During his childhood Zach's father authored a popular children's book, then fell... Read more
Published 5 months ago by R. West
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing.
Great idea and tremendous cast saddled with a DREADFUL whiney and meandering script. Add self-indulgent drection and a completely unbelievable ending and you've lost me for sure. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Beth Bailey-Kingdon
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this movie!
Great family movie and has a very good plot. My whole family enjoyed this movie. It is a feel good movie.
Published 7 months ago by Dawn007
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST OWN!!!
A beautiful heartwarming movie that makes you wonder about your own family and makes you understand your family and your understanding in what really matters.
Published 9 months ago by Shenandoah
5.0 out of 5 stars An unexpectedly engaging and beautifully-crafted exploration of mental...
I put off watching this movie for a long time, thinking (quite wrongly) that it would be a light-hearted childrens'-themed tale. It is not. Read more
Published 9 months ago by M. Wechsler
5.0 out of 5 stars Neverwas
This is a must have if you love Brittnay Murphy ( r.i.p. ) I try to get all of her movies I think you would say the same it is a feel good film.
Published 11 months ago by dale l naylor
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