Other movies have blurred the lines between fantasy and reality much more deftly — The Fisher King and Finding Neverland come to mind. But where those films coupled a sense of wonder with an empathy for the mentally ill, Neverwas skirts those facets in favor of sugar-coated melodrama. As a consequence, its potential metaphors are discarded, leaving only a shell of a story rife with obvious clichés. What we’re left with is a film that has the aura of a made for Lifetime TV movie. Even its climax is contrived so as to provide a happy, if ill-advised ending.
Neverwas, with its tagline of “Every fairy tale needs its hero,” held the promise of allegory, and indeed, it could have been. Had Stern focused his story rather than let it slip into pandering, and had the actors involved not called in their performances, and had they perhaps not gone with light and airy cinematography against a droning Philip Glass soundtrack, it might have been a movie that spoke to the human condition. The opposite happened, though, leaving Neverwas as a film more about might have beens than it ever intended.