(US); 1991; Rated PG; 144 Minutes
Dustin Hoffman: Captain Hook
Robin Williams: Peter Banning
Julia Roberts: Tinkerbell
Bob Hoskins: Smee
Maggie Smith: Granny Wendy
Caroline Goodall: Moira Banning
Produced by Gary Adelson, Craig Baumgarten, Bruce
Cohen, Dodi Fayed, James V. Hart, Kathleen Kennedy, Malia
Scotch Marmo, Frank Marshall; Directed by Steven
Spielberg; Screenwritten by James V. Hart, Nick Castle
and Malia Scotch Marmo
by DAVID KEYES
countless realizations of the childhood fantasy "Peter Pan"
are more common than remakes of "The Hunchback Of Notre
Dame," but probably more effective. The story visualizes
a place where children can stay any age they wish, battle
pirates, swim with Mermaids, and fulfill all sorts of adventures
without the discipline of a parent to interfere. In other
words, a dream come true for any little boy under the age
Pan" was certainly one of my faves at the time. But each
of us has a soft spot for childlike myths even after the
years have passed by, because such stories constantly remind
us of the fearsome possibilities of youth and its many adventures.
Could this explain why there are so many interpretations?
Partially. But I think the subject endures so many remakes
simply because it seeks exposure to each new generation.
Most of the renditions, though, are produced for the stage--there
have only been a handful of movies using Pan as the source
again, movie audiences demand much more than just the same
old story being reinterpreted over and over again on the
screen. Director Steven Spielberg surely knew this when
he went into the studio to make "Hook"--instead of adapting
the premise in straightforward and predictable behavior,
he chose to approach it in a way no one had ever done before.
Spielberg has always been one to imagine his films without
the weight of clichés dragging them down--"Jurassic Park"
and "Close Encounters Of The Third King," two of his most
imaginative, are validation of this theory. His movie about
the adventures of Neverland, interestingly, is also one
of the few to successfully stray from the basic Peter Pan
picture stars Robin Williams as Peter Banning, a business
man who, while having two small children, seems detached
from his family life. Swarmed by the pressures of his job,
and with a cellular phone always at his ear, he picks up
the family and takes them to London for a visit with Granny
Wendy (Maggie Smith)--the woman who adopted Peter at twelve
and raised him to the successful man he is today. A feeling
of nostalgia looms in the air once the story establishes
its motive; the children fall asleep in the same bedroom
that Peter found Wendy, John and Michael in; we see a beam
of light streak through the window; and then suddenly the
kids are gone.
happened to them, you ask? They were whisked away to--you
guessed it!--Neverland by the notorious Captain Hook. What
for? To lure his rival, Pan, back to the second star to
the right for a final showdown. But through other such details,
we learn that Banning has amnesia of everything that happened
before the age of twelve; his memories of the Lost Boys,
the Mermaids and even the pirates, have been erased. The
possibilities go farther, however, when Tinkerbell (Julia
Roberts) shows up at his window and takes him to Neverland
regardless of his memory lapse.
significance of the story is, theoretically, to see what
it would be like for Pan to grow up. But does that defeat
the whole purpose of the myth? Not really. All children
need to grow up. And thankfully, the story doesn't leap
beyond the fantasy or imagination to dwell on the details
of how he is a successful business man. Robin Williams is
good at this type of stuff--his vibrant ambition on screen
feels extremely appropriate for the Peter Pan persona. Too
bad he doesn't make many movies like this anymore--most
of the stuff he's doing nowadays resorts to cheesy melodrama.
saw "Hook" twice during its theatrical run in 1991, but
did not admire it. A third viewing on DVD, and suddenly
all the fond memories of the Peter Pan myth came back to
me. My only explanation: age and experience has drawn me
away from the myth in the same way it has Peter Banning.
So it is understandable, I guess, that I accept the film
this time around; I have been separated from the spirit
of Peter Pan long enough to know that I have missed it dearly.
The movie is a strong reminder of the freedom of youth and
the quest for pure adventure, one that looks to the stars
and sees the possibilities are as bright as a child's own
David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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