Wendy: There’s No Pixie Dust Here

(From L-R): Devin France, Gavin Naquin, Gage Naquin, Romyri Ross and Yashua Mack in the film WENDY. Photo Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

Wendy seeks to tell the classic story of Peter Pan by way of a contemporary retelling but Benh Zeitlin’s first film in years just happens to fall short.

The basic ideas behind J.M. Barrie’s classic novel appear in the film.  However, this is about it.  With rare exception, most of the film adaptations take place around the time that the novel was sit.  This film happens to move things up by several decades.  It may be a credit to Benh Zeitlin and Eliza Zeitlin’s screenplay but this film puts a different spin on things.  Perhaps a bit too different than what we’re used to seeing either on the screen or stage.  Maybe you’ll feel a bit differently but I personally felt that there was just too much change for me.

Zeitlin turns to a bunch of first-time actors in the retelling.  The actors are fine.  Where the problem lies is that there’s just too many changes to the original story.  I suppose that audiences were due for a new film as the last major film was released in 2003 from Universal. The film had done well with critics but didn’t do so well at the box office.  While I’m not going to get into box office predictions here, Wendy just doesn’t seem to break new ground aside from things.  Don’t get me wrong as there are some ideas that are new but that’s just that–they’re new.  They’ve never really had a place in the classic story.  It really seems like Zeitlin chooses to abandon the classic book in order to tell a different story altogether.

The whole Captain Hook angle in this film may be admirable in terms of driving the story but it goes against every single Peter Pan writing ever.  Unfortunately, we could see this coming from more than a mile away.  Other viewers may react differently and that’s perfectly fine.  Nobody said we had to agree on everything.

While the film isn’t all that great, there are some positives here and there.  Among them are Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin’s score.  Another positive to enjoy about the film is the breathtaking scenery on the island.  Unlike the original story and further adaptations, the script does get rid of the racism and sexism.  This is definitely a positive improvement in the right direction but overall, it doesn’t move the needle much.

Music and breathtaking scenery aside, Wendy just doesn’t have the magic.

DIRECTOR:  Benh Zeitlin
SCREENWRITERS:  Benh Zeitlin & Eliza Zeitlin
CAST:  Devin France, Yashua Mack, Gage Naquin, Gavin Naquin, Ahmad Cage, Krzysztof Meyn, Romyri Ross

Searchlight Pictures opens Wendy in theaters on February 28, 2020. Grade: 2.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.