When I was growing up, we had two different VHS’s in the house that were about Peter Pan. I had an old, worn-out copy of the Mary Martin Peter Pan, which for those who aren’t familiar with it was basically a filmed stage play with Mary Martin as Peter Pan. And, boy, was I obsessed with that movie as a kid. That was one of the VHS’s I watched the most growing up. We also owned Hook, 1991’s update of the classic tale directed by none other than Steven Spielberg. This was the very first movie I ever watched that had stars in it like Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Smith, and Bob Hoskins. It is, although maybe not as much as when I was a kid, a great and fun adventure tale that is sure to be magical for all children.

For those rare, rare few who have never seen the film, Hook is about Peter Panning (Robin Williams). Peter Panning is a corporate lawyer who is more obsessed with his job and career success than his family. And more often than not, he puts his work well before his family and misses events like his son’s baseball games. Peter is an orphan, and when he was younger, he was adopted by Wendy Darling (Maggie Smith). Yes, that Wendy Darling. She is the Wendy that J.M. Barrie spoke to and was inspired by when he wrote the Peter Pan story down. Peter takes his family to London to celebrate Wendy’s long, long life in helping the orphans of the city. While there, Peter’s children are mysteriously kidnapped, and we discover that Peter Panning is in fact the Peter Pan of myth and it is up to Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts) and the Lost Boys to whip Peter back into shape so that he can save his children from Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) and Smee (Bob Hoskins).

The film is your childhood fantasy of Peter Pan come straight to life. Steven Spielberg brings Never Never Land out of the story book and onto your TV screen through inventive costume and set design. The little tree village that the Lost Boys lives in is an absolute visual delight and the pirate town looks like something you’d expect Disney World to put together. It’s a marvel. You can’t forget John William’s fantastic score either. There’s a reason why this man is one of the most consistently excellent scorers in the history of film, and this movie is no exception. One of the themes of the movie is the power of imagination and you can tell that the group of people who put this film together were chock full of spectacular imaginations.

Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams are the dual beating hearts of the film. It was wonderful to see Robin Williams cast so completely against type for all but the last act of the film. To see him playing a stuck-up, nervous, neurotic lawyer goes against one’s expectations of Williams as the high-strung, manic, perpetual motion machine that he usually plays. It isn’t until he realizes that he truly is Peter Pan that we begin to see that side of him again. And of course, there aren’t enough good things to say about Hoffman’s deliciously ove the top  performance as Captain Hook. I love Dustin Hoffman. He’s one of my favorite actors. However, if I had never seen Hook before, but still knew all of the other stuff I knew about Hoffman, and you asked me who was playing Hook, I would have never in a million years guessed it was Dustin Hoffman. From the wig to the makeup to the prosthetic nose to the ridiculous accent, he completely transformed himself and it’s awesome.

The film has some serious problems. It’s way too long. There’s way too much talking. Yet, I’m about to turn 22 and I still love this movie. Pretty much every critic on the planet hated this film, and I don’t know why. It was never trying to be a great movie. It was just trying to be a fun children’s movie that if you’re the adult taking your kids to see it, you’re still going to enjoy it to. And I firmly believe that in that area, it succeeded. Not every film has to be a high-brow art-house piece, and we should judge movies on what they try to be. This film tried to be fun, and it was.

Final Score: B+

Advertisements