Wendy Darling (writer/co-director April Wish) of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan fame has grown up into a middle-aged, potty-mouthed screenwriter who rewatches old home movies to distract from her creative death spiral. Already anxious over her tweenaged daughter Jane’s disappearance with a certain boy who wouldn’t grow up, a call from her Hollywood agent (1980s icon Jon Cryer, in funny but awkwardly timed audiovisual cameos) to inform her that nobody wants her revisionist take on Neverland — not even Netflix — prompts her to commiserate with her bestie, played by a delightfully snarky Busy Philipps, in a brief FaceTime appearance. But when word of Wendy’s pixie-dusted past goes viral on TikTok, the rush to exploit her history threatens to debunk Disney’s version of her fairy tale.
Ten minutes in, Wendy, My Darling remembers that it’s a musical, with songs by co-director Tammy Glover. The five original power-pop ballads, backed by multimedia clips of vaguely related CGI stock footage, have hooks that sound familiar from some half-remembered indie radio hit. The prerecorded backing tracks are catchy and well-produced, but Wish delivers them with way more enthusiasm than pitch control, leaving me wishing she’d either left them out entirely in favor of simply sticking with her witty and warm script. It takes time for this adult storybook to take flight, and the climactic scene is repetitively overwritten, but by the end Wish’s unguarded maternal emoting ultimately hooked me.
Wendy My Darling
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