The story of Peter Pan is timeless, having been adapted many times on stage and screen. In 1991, the already-legendary Steven Spielberg took the iconic story in a new direction with Hook. How does it fare among the other Peter Pan incarnations? Put on your green tights and sprinkle some pixie dust and here we go! Off to Neverland!
Peter Banning (Robin Williams) is a middle-aged lawyer who is distant from his kids. While on a family trip in London to visit his “Grandma” Wendy (Maggie Smith), his children are abducted by Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) in the middle of the night. Desperate to find his children, Peter tracks him back to Neverland and rediscovers his magical origins with help from Tinker Bell (Julia Roberts) and the Lost Boys.
Hook is a movie that is either love it or hate it. Some say it’s too cheesy and whimsical and others retort that it is the right amount of whimsical and fun. Right off the bat, I’m in the love it camp. Hook is cheesy, sure, but it is so much fun and makes me smile every time I see it. First off, I love how this movie dives into the idea of Peter Pan. It asks some interesting questions and tinkers with the mythology of the character. What if Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up, grew up? What if his priorities changed? It’s all here and it does it well. Robin Williams (God rest his soul) was able to balance all these different components all while keeping his fast paced humor. It still plays with the typical distant father who rekindles his relationship with his children, but combining it with Peter Pan and the idea that he has to relearn how to fly is more intriguing. The best parts of the film were watching Peter have to “relearn” life on Neverland.
Of course this movie is not without its flaws. The entire third act is a cheesy-cheese fest of epic proportions, trying to hammer the sentimental message home. And the set design, while impressive, is a little over the top. The biggest problems are the plot holes that happen right around the moment where Peter begins to remember who he is. There are about 5 noticeable plot holes in those 5 minutes. That’s a lot to take in and it began to tug me out of this “banarang” world and into reality. This can really impact the way you view Hook. For me, there are head scratchers that bother me, but not enough to hinder my view of the movie.
Overall, Hook is a whimsical retelling of Peter Pan that asks unique questions. Spielberg does sprinkle a little too much fantastical to where it can become a little to saccharine. However, I love it. It makes me smile for days afterwards. I laugh at the jokes and even the film’s flaws. For that, I give Hook a B+. It’s one of my favorite feel- good movies.
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