In Brief: Not a good movie for kids. Not a good movie for adults. Just plain not a good movie.
The premise of Come Away — as developed by director Brenda Chapman — has the film set in England in the late 1800s. A couple of kids are trying to deal with some very adult issues. The children are Peter and Alice. The two characters — in Chapman’s mind and that of writer Marissa Kate Goodhill — became the inspiration for Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland. Peter blames himself for his older brother, David’s death. David was the favorite child of his parents and the family’s child with the brightest of bright futures.
Peter wants to grow up quick and become David. He can’t fill his brother’s shoes but tries. His age keeps dragging Peter back to the things kids do. Oh, like play. The same thing is happening with his sister Alice who is influenced by a humorless aunt. Alice also wants to be older and more mature.
The death of David totally knocks parents Rose and Jack into a dangerous tailspin. Rose takes to drink and Jack slides back into London’s underbelly where he lived before meeting Rose. He owes people money and the couple end up deeply in debt.
Their children try to solve that problem with disastrous results. Not as disastrous as this movie but close.
Angelina Jolie and David Oyelowo star as Rose and Jack. Jolie attempts a British accent and fails horribly. Worse, she plays Rose with all the energy of a piece of wood. Jolie smiles at the child actors but there is little warmth in her character or her acting.
A big part of Jolie’s problem is the awful script that Chapman and Goodhill credit J.M. Barrie and Lewis Carol with writing. If they two authors were still alive they’d probably sue.
Oyelowo (Selma) already has a British accent so he doesn’t get points deducted there. However, like Jolie and the kids, he doesn’t get much help from the writing.
Come Away does — somehow — manage to have two positives. The first is the acting of child stars Kiera Chansa who plays Alice and Jordan A. Nash who gets the nod as Peter. They’re both very, very good.
The second positive is how at times Chapman lets you view the story from the eyes of a child. As her 2013 Oscar for the Disney animated classic, Brave showed, the lady has very good storytelling skills. Sometimes she shows the kids in the natural fantasy world of a child and at other times they are forced into the unnatural world of what it’s like to be an adult.
It’s a brilliant contrast. Unfortunately, that’s just about all that’s appealing in the movie.
As for this being a movie for kids, don’t buy the marketing that claims this is a new classic. The material is way too adult to be of much interest to kids of any age. This is an adult movie. Period.
Sadly, Come Away is also not a very good movie for adults.
Director: Brenda Chapman
Stars: Angelina Jolie, David Oyelowo, Kiera Chansa, Jordan A. Nash, Reece Yates, Anna Chancellor, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Caine, Derek Jacobi, Clarke Peters
Rated PG for mature themes. Too mature if you’re a kid of any age. And too dull if you’re not. Give this one a 1 on the Friday Flicks with Gary o to 5 scale.
This one can be found in theaters. Click here to see where you can see Come Away.
Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.