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Neverland

Given mainstream gay culture's obsession with youth and hedonism, a queer reinterpretation of "Peter Pan" seems like a no-brainer. But "Neverland" never takes the bait, downplaying the sexuality while instead concocting a ponderous fantasy that's way too earnest for such pretentious whimsy.

With:
With: Rick Sparks, Melany Bell, Gary Kelley, Kari Wahlgren, Ray Garcia, Marcus Reynaga, Wil Wheaton, Deborah Quayle, David Jahn, Scott Mechlowicz, Kevin Christy, Stephanie Orff.

Given mainstream gay culture’s obsession with youth and hedonism, a queer reinterpretation of “Peter Pan” seems like a no-brainer. But “Neverland” never takes the bait, downplaying the sexuality while instead concocting a ponderous fantasy that’s way too earnest for such pretentious whimsy. Writer-director Damion Dietz touches on issues concerning fear of commitment and responsibility. But mostly, this self-consciously enigmatic contrivance has too little insight to coax much contemporary relevance from the J.M. Barrie children’s classic, making it unlikely to fly commercially.

Breezing into the lives of disenfranchised adopted siblings Wendy (Melany Bell), Michael (Marcus Reynaga) and John (Wil Wheaton), seductive teen rebel Peter Pan (Rick Sparks) and his sullen sidekick Tinkerbell (Kari Wahlgren) whisk them off to Neverland, a run-down amusement park where they hide out with other runaways. Sinister park maintenance chief Hook (Gary Kelley) both desires and envies the lost boys’ youth and beauty. He takes them prisoner when drugged-out Tinkerbell divulges their whereabouts, prompting a face-off with Peter. Despite the film’s dark mood and textured soundtrack and visuals, the uncharismatic cast and uninspired writing make this a pointless exercise.

Popular on Variety

Neverland

Production: A New Media Entertainment presentation of a Second Star production. Produced by Damion Dietz, Stephanie Orff. Directed, written by Damion Dietz, based on the novel "Peter Pan," by J.M. Barrie.

Crew: Camera (color, digital video), Derek Dale; editor, Scott Baldyga; music/sound designer, Jeffery Alan Jones; production designer, Kathleen Finch; costume designer, Mary Kelly; choreographer, Alan Johnson. Reviewed at NewFest: New York Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, June 11, 2003. Running time: 83 MIN.

With: With: Rick Sparks, Melany Bell, Gary Kelley, Kari Wahlgren, Ray Garcia, Marcus Reynaga, Wil Wheaton, Deborah Quayle, David Jahn, Scott Mechlowicz, Kevin Christy, Stephanie Orff.

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