Wendy

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Wendy Movie Poster Image
Updated Peter Pan story has striking visuals, uneven plot.
  • PG-13
  • 2020
  • 112 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 7 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Themes/messages center on wonder, wildness, carefree innocence of childhood -- and learning to appreciate value of family and beauty of growing up/living out your whole story ("to grow up is a great adventure"). Importance of a mother's love (both mystical mother and biological one) is prevalent, as is need for curiosity, courage, teamwork, and perseverance. Peter's rules for staying young are "never slow down, never think twice, and no sad thoughts."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Wendy and her brothers are brave and close. They want to protect and defend one another. They also love their mom and feel loved and taken care of by her (though they also run off and leave her behind). The Lost Boys are kind and playful but find it hard to take anything seriously. Peter wants everyone to be happy and carefree. Some characters act out of fear and selfishness. 

Violence

In one tense/shocking sequence, a boy asks Peter to cut off his hand (so he won't age): Peter does it, it's painful/traumatic, and the bloody wound is shown and bandaged. A character hits his head while swimming under water; blood swirling in the water indicates that he was injured, and for a long while he's presumed dead. Other characters mourn his loss. A beloved creature dies after being hunted and harpooned. Fight between factions of Lost Boys. Kids are taken captive, tied up, threatened. Captain Hook is scary and sad. A young boy runs away; "missing" posters are shown for him. Kids are pushed/jump off of a moving train into the water. A volcano rumbles and spews ash; references to people/families dying in previous eruptions. Arguments/yelling. Choreographed swordfight.

Sex

In a montage sequence, one teen character kisses another teen character.

Language

"S--t," "damn," "ass," "badass," "butt-ass naked," "crap," "hell," "butt," "freakin'," "dang," "suck," "oh my God," "Jeez," "fart," "idiot," etc.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink beer at a party.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wendy is a moody, modern-day retelling of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan story that focuses on a young Wendy Darling (Devin France). Here, Wendy lives in working-class Louisiana and gets to Neverland by running away from home and jumping on a train, where she and her twin brothers meet Peter. In Neverland, life is grand until tragedy strikes, leading to unexpected consequences. Expect occasional strong language ("damn," "hell," "ass," and a use of "s--t") and a few scenes of danger and violence, including one intense sequence in which a boy's hand is cut off, and sad moments when it seems like a key character has died. Spoiler alert! Later, a beloved creature does die after being hunted. Characters have experienced traumatic loss, and there's a volcano that rumbles and spews ash. Unlike other Peter Pan adaptations, this film is less plot-driven and is slower-paced and more contemplative in a way that might be tricky for younger viewers to follow. It's also very focused on the importance of motherhood, which could be difficult for kids who don't have moms or have complicated relationships with their mothers. But it does touch on the universal Peter Pan themes of the wonder, wildness, and carefree innocence of childhood and the value of learning to appreciate family and the beauty of growing up.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byaubey23 April 19, 2020

Not a children’s movie

This movie was not intended for children and should not be watched by young children. It was way too intense for my mature 9-year-old. The scene with the hand i... Continue reading
Adult Written byOrFreeSpirit February 28, 2021

My daughter was scared

I thought it is for young children so I let my 8 years daughter watch it and when she finished watching it she was scared and told me about a scene where a hand... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bysdsrule April 7, 2020
Teen, 16 years old Written byFilmcritic2020 May 1, 2020

Meaningfull

It was an amazing film filled with kids just being kids. In one scene a boy grows old in his hand so they cut it of but that is not shown. This also lays a conn... Continue reading

What's the story?

WENDY is a retelling of the Peter Pan story from director Behn Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild). It centers on young Wendy Darling (Devin France), the daughter of a Louisiana diner owner who ends up in Neverland by jumping on a train with her older twin brothers, Douglas (Gage Naquin) and James (Gavin Naquin). Neverland is an island full of Lost Boys (and girls) -- but it's also home to a mysterious old man who apparently was once a Lost Boy, too. In this version, Peter (Yashua Mack) is charming, mischievous, and island-descended, and he and the Lost Boys are kept perpetually young by a magical "Mother," a mythical sea creature that seems to guard them in their fountain of youth. After an unexpected tragedy strikes the Darlings, Wendy discovers that there are some dark aspects to the idea of "never growing up."

Is it any good?

This visually impressive Peter Pan retelling focuses on Wendy but lacks a strong narrative thread beyond the chaotic wonder of a potentially never-ending childhood. Parts of the film are lovely and memorable, and in terms of cinematography, score, and production design, the movie is impressive. But the plot and the dialogue beg more questions than they answer, and there are upsetting twists that will leave viewers unsatisfied and disappointed, given the source material.

France is an expressive young actor, and -- like Brooklynn Prince in The Florida Project -- she's able to convey a lot. In fact, most of the amateur young actors do a good job, although they mostly just have to play, run, and scream in delight (there's quite a lot of hollering). The emphasis on the setting and the story's allegorical elements may lack appeal for younger viewers, but older moviegoers could be intrigued to figure out what Zeitlin is trying to say about childhood, adulthood, and what's lost and gained in the adventure of growing up. One character's story arc in particular fits into the Pan legend but is deeply upsetting to the point of being an unforgivable flaw. There's a lot to unpack in this leisurely paced, thoughtful examination of Peter Pan, but the movie falls short of the greatness expected as the follow-up to Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Wendy. Do you think it's necessary for the story? Who do you think the target audience is? How can you tell?

  • Who, if anyone, is a role model in the movie? What character strengths are displayed?

  • How does Wendy cope with the difficulties in her life? Is she aware of them? How does she compare to other movie girls?

  • There have been several retellings of Peter Pan. How does this one compare to others you're familiar with? Which version do you like most?

  • Do you agree with the movie's opinion on growing up? Is it scary? Is it an adventure?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fairy tales

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate