Listen, when I got invited to screen the Come Away movie a few days ago, I was immediately intrigued. I recently screened David Oyelowo’s movie “The Water Man” during the Toronto International Film Festival, which I’ll have a review up for soon, so I was already familiar with his acting.
However, the idea of a Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland origin story where the two are brother and sister, was incredibly exciting! I had no clue what to expect from this film, and I sure as hell am glad I wasn’t disappointed! So what did I really think of Come Away? Here’s my full review of the Come Away movie below.
Come Away Movie Review
First let me set the scene for you …
In this imaginative origin story of two of the most beloved characters in literature, eight-year-old Alice (Keira Chansa), her mischievous brother Peter (Jordan A. Nash) and their brilliant older sibling David (Reece Yates) let their imaginations run wild one blissful summer in the English countryside.
Encouraged by their parents Jack and Rose (David Oyelowo and Angelina Jolie), the kids’ make-believe tea parties, sword fights and pirate ship adventures come to an abrupt end when tragedy strikes. Peter, eager to prove himself a hero to his grief-stricken and financially-struggling parents, journeys with Alice to London, where they try to sell a treasured heirloom to the sinister pawnshop owner known as C.J. (David Gyasi).
Returning home, Alice seeks temporary refuge in a wondrous rabbit hole while Peter permanently escapes reality by entering a magical realm as leader of the “Lost Boys.”
The story imagines a world where Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland are related, and show us what led them down their individual paths, and it’s an amazing story! I was worried about how this story would turn out, but I loved it!
Come Away is definitely a must see for millennials of color (and their families)!
If you grew up loving Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland you’re going to love this origin story. (If you’re not one of those racist types who think Black folks shouldn’t portray white characters. *side eye*)
‘Cause let’s be honest here, Come Away not only shows us a world where Alice and Peter are brother and sister, as well as how they became the beloved characters we now know them as, but they also show us a world where Peter and Alice are Black!
And we all know folks hate when Black people get casted as their “childhood icons”. *sigh*
So like I said, if you’re NOT racist, you should have no problem seeing a Black Alice or Peter!
For my family, especially my 8 year old daughter, seeing Alice as a Black girl brought us great joy! When we attended the virtual screening, my daughter changed into one of her dresses so she could be “just like Alice”. She’s never done that before!
I mean, we just watched the Beauty and the Beast live action film on Disney Plus and she didn’t bat an eye. (She loved the film, but it didn’t move her!) Come Away made my 8 year old feel seen and it brought me great joy to see her get dressed up to watch another little girl on screen who looked just like her.
Representation really matters and I am extremely happy that we got this film!
But beware, this isn’t the happy, go lucky, Disney story you’re used to! The Come Away movie is definitely darker than I had imagined it would be.
I absolutely loved the pretend play scenes where the kids would imagine themselves as pirates! And I loved how those scenes went from imagination to reality so you could see what it looks like when our kids imagine themselves in new worlds.
One moment you’d see the kids fighting with swords, and shortly after we’d see that the swords were really just sticks found on the floor. It was amazing to watch their imagination come to life! I even loved the story about fairies, and about Tinker’s bell!
But towards the end of this film, the story takes a dark turn, and it makes me wonder if this was ever meant to be a film for families and children? Come Away feels like it should be for preteens and older.
I mean, the storyline was very easy for my 8 year old to follow, but that also has it’s consequences. Because it was so easy for her to follow, she ended up remembering the part I hoped she would forget. I won’t spoil the film, but an incident does occur towards the end, and it’s easy for kids to pick up on. Hell, it was difficult for me to watch, let alone a kid!
Oh and there was also a moment where it looks like Alice is drinking alcohol?
The moment was fuzzy, and such a blur that kids probably won’t be able to put the two together, but before Alice drinks her potion, her mom had already said it ‘makes her feel better’ and it’s for adults. Hell, she locked it up, so Alice couldn’t get to it. So it really made me stop and wonder why a moment like this, that could be construed as a child drinking alcohol, would be placed in a movie for kids.
However, had it not been for those two moments, I’d easily say this is a perfect movie for all families. But since it’s not, keep your little ones away from this.
It’s too dark for kids under 8. (And even 8 is a stretch depending on your kids! I’d say 11-12 and older is probably best. But since my 8 yr old loved it, 8 and older is doable.)
Come Away also touches on kids comparing themselves to their siblings, depression after your child dies, and what happens when you own a business but become too depressed to work.
Which are all amazing topics to touch on and highlight for our Black community.
They were also handled in a way that felt very raw, open, emotional, but real, which will make for great discussions.
Too often we see movies where we think “yeah, I get it, but that could never happen, a parent would never do that”.
Hell, right now the world is questioning The Mandalorian and the Frog mom’s behavior in Season 2. There’s no way a mom would be so passive about her kids!
So to see two parents struggle, in a way we all would, makes this movie that much better. Yeah, it’s a fairytale, but they’re humans!
Overall, this reimagining is absolutely amazing and I loved it!
Come Away effortlessly blended Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland to give us this incredible origin story. Honestly, I hope Brenda Chapman (the movie director) and Marissa Kate Goodhill (the movie writer) give us a sequel and expand on their new worlds to show us what their take on Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland would be! Even my 8 year old agrees that they should do another movie! (Despite the fact that she was a bit scared at a few points during the film, she loved it, and I know representation plays a big factor in that!)
Instead of a scared little girl, we got an Alice who was brave and spoke up to defend herself. We got to watch a young Black boy go from never wanting to grow up to wanting to be brave and help his parents when they were in a financial crisis.
Plus the acting is phenomenal, and the animations of Peter’s drawings were a delight! (Similar to how I loved the animations of the wooden figures in Jingle Jangle.)
Honestly, Come Away was even better than The Secret Garden, which disappointed me this year, as much as I love that story. (And let’s remember that The Secret Garden was produced by the folks who worked on Harry Potter! So this tells you a lot!)
It took awhile for me to see exactly where this movie was going, but the ending is magical and everything comes together extremely well.
There isn’t a dull moment at all!
It does lean more heavily towards Peter Pan’s story, and even my daughter got upset a few times because she really wanted to see Alice. But with so many movies out that lean more towards a female audience, I’m not mad that our boys have a magical movie of their own. And even with this being perfect for boys, girls were still included, highlighted and uplifted!
So yeah, I’d say Come Away is a must see for all, especially families of color!