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The Peter Pan Story Reset for Older Escapists,
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This review is from: Neverland (DVD)
"Neverland" is the Peter Pan story reset to slacker characters. The three adopted Darling children, John (a 23-year old dropout, played by Wil Wheaton), Michael (a similar-aged Ritalin taker, played by Marcus Reynaga), and Wendy (the designated responsible babysitter, played by Melany Bell) all want to escape their home. Peter Pan (Rick Sparks) shows up looking for the keys to his car ("My Shadow") and entices Wendy and her adoptive brothers to run away to Neverland, an amusement park maintained by head janitor Hook (Gary Kelley). Tinkerbell (Kari Wahlgren) takes an instant dislike of Wendy. We meet the Lost Boys, a drag queen Tiger Lily (Ray Garcia), American Indian performers, and other varients of the Barrie story. Hook says he wants to rid Neverland of Lost Boy lowlives but indicates he uses the boys for his own purposes. The story proceeds.
Skin shots are provided by Michael, Hook, and two of the Lost Boys. There is no sex or violence. For all of its edgy look, the basic story is very evident throughout.
The acting was fair. For whatever reason I liked Rick Sparks as Peter, Melany Bell as Wendy, and Ryan Patrick Kelly as Tootles, a Lost Boy. The lighting and sets were interesting.
The drawbacks for me were the mixed messages in the film.
Wendy's moralizing and second thoughts come almost as soon as she reaches Neverland; there is no honeymoon period. Characters in their mid-20s are lectured to both get a career and live at home with their parents. Disney's Peter Pan and Pinocchio deliver similar, simpler messages. Here, Ikiru meets The Wizard of Oz.
The film has been marketed to an extent as a gay film because of the Hook's stated tendencies and S&M costuming. But for me the film's implicit message is that if you leave the safety of home, you will be attacked by perverts. Although Peter claims to be "pansexual", there are no positive gay characters in the film. Pan dispatches Hook, and nobody cares. This is not a gay film.
It is an interesting variant of the Peter Pan story and has more point for older viewers wondering if they have been enticed to their own Neverlands.