Hook tek's rating:

Hook (PG)
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Caution: spoilers.

This came out in 1991. I'm fairly sure I didn't see it in a theater, but I must have seen it at least a couple of times in the 90s, on TV and/or VHS. And probably sometime after the 90s. Anyway, I remember liking it a lot. Then I watched it on DVD in 2015, and I'm not sure how many years it's been since I'd seen it last; I don't even recall whether or not I actually watched it at the time I originally wrote a review, sometime in the Aughts. (I usually don't write reviews of movies I haven't seen in years, but it's possible I did for this, for some specific reason that I've forgotten or just because it was a movie I felt it would be a crime not to mention.) Anyway, taking a look at the review now that I definitely have rewatched it, I increased my rating from four smileys to one heart. It's kind of weird... I'm sure there are a lot of people from my generation might have first seen this in the 90s, and really liked it, who would like it a lot less if they watched it now. But for me it's the opposite: I liked it even more than I remembered. (It's also longer than I remembered, around 2 hours and 20 minutes.) Anyway, I decided to rewrite my review.

The premise is fairly simple and interesting, I think: What if Peter Pan, the boy who would never grow up, did grow up? After the familiar story ended, he occasionally came back to London to visit Wendy (who was played in flashback by Gwyneth Paltrow, something I definitely don't remember being aware of until I rewatched the movie in 2015). But one day he was shocked to find that she had grown into an old woman (played by Maggie Smith). And he decided to stay, instead of returning to Neverland. Wendy helped him find adoptive parents, the Bannings, who lived in America (which I suppose explains the fact that Robin Williams is thankfully not even trying to do a British accent). Now he's married to a woman named Moira (Wendy's granddaughter), and they have two kids of their own, Jack and Maggie. But Peter Banning (now a mergers & acquisitions lawyer) has no memory of ever having been Peter Pan. Incidentally, I'm not sure exactly how long he'd spent living in London with Wendy before being adopted by the Bannings, but apparently he and Moira were friends as children. And he's returned to visit them both periodically, and now Peter, Moira, Jack, and Maggie all live in the States, and they continue to visit Wendy, though Peter's too busy with work to visit her as often as she'd like him to. I must also say I didn't notice any age difference between Old Lady Wendy in the flashback of when Young Peter first decided to stay, and Wendy in the present, which must be about thirty years later. I'm not sure if that's just because I'm oblivious, or because it didn't occur to anyone to make her look older. Anyway... it's not only Wendy whom Peter doesn't have time for; the movie starts out by demonstrating that he rarely has time for his kids, especially Jack (who obviously resents this fact).

So... after Peter's family dynamic is set up, they all fly to London, in part so that Peter can give a speech at an event being held in Wendy's honor, since she's helped so many orphans over the years. (Her very first orphan was Tootles, a former Lost Boy who is now a seemingly senile old man, who I guess never found a family of his own... so he apparently still lives with Wendy.) While Peter, Moira, and Wendy are at the event, Jack and Maggie are kidnapped by Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) and/or Mr. Smee (Bob Hoskins). (We don't actually see the abductors or the abduction, but some spooky stuff happens that heralds it. And Hook leaves a note for Peter.) The police are later called in, but Wendy tells Peter only he can rescue his kids, because he's Peter Pan. Which of course he doesn't believe. But later, Tinker Bell (Julial Roberts) shows up and also tries to convince him of the truth... which he still doesn't believe. But she takes him to Neverland anyway, where he's quickly found by Hook, Smee, and the rest of the pirate crew. (Rewatching the movie, I was surprised at how much of the movie was set in the real world, before finally going to Neverland. I'm not sure if I'd just forgotten, or if I'd only seen an edited version of the movie before.) Anyway, Hook had been hoping for a grand war between Pan and himself, but he's deeply disappointed to find that Peter has no memory of being Pan, and he's gotten old and fat and can neither fight nor fly. So he just orders his men to kill Peter and his children. However, Tink convinces Hook to give her three days to teach Peter to be his old self again, and she takes him to stay with the Lost Boys. Meanwhile, Hook continues to hold the kids hostage, but Smee comes up with the idea of tricking them into loving Hook more than their father... which predictably works well with Jack.

Since Pan had left Neverland, the Lost Boys had been led by Rufio (Dante Basco). I remember thinking Rufio was pretty cool, when I first watched the movie, and I still like the character now, but this is one aspect of the movie I maybe like slightly less than I used to. Rufio feels threatened by Pan's return, but eventually he accepts him. It's a decent little subplot, but I think it's a bit too little. It really would've been nice to see him have a larger role in the story. There are a number of other Lost Boys whose names I barely noticed being spoken and never remembered, but looking them up online, I see that the most important one of them was called Thud Butt. Oh, and the first one to accept that Peter is Pan was a kid called Pockets. Anyway... it takes awhile, but Peter eventually does regain his memory, learns to use his imagination and fly and crow and swordfight and everything. (In so doing, he briefly forgets about his wife and kids and his whole life in the "real" world, and there's a kind of nice scene with Tink... which I don't want to go into.) Of course, he'll soon remember why he's there, and Hook will get the war he wanted.

Anyway... I continue to think it's a fun story, and I've always strongly identified with the theme that growing up doesn't have to mean putting away childish things. Not completely. It certainly doesn't have to mean losing one's imagination, or ceasing to take joy in life's ordinary adventures. And I can't imagine anyone better to play an adult Peter Pan than Robin Williams. Jack was played by Charlie Korsmo, who the year before this movie had been in Dick Tracy. And incidentally, I recall reading, before this movie came out, that Lisa Bonet (of Cosby Show fame) was going to play Tiger Lily, and I was looking forward to that. But the character was cut from the movie, which was disappointing. (But it's kind of hard to see how any time could even have been found for a whole other plotline that would involve her, anyway.) The movie has its flaws, but I still love it, and I love a lot of the little touches (like the Bannings flying on Pan Am, something I don't remember noticing before, and the window latch that looked like Hook's hook, which I surely must have noticed). And I'm not sure what else to say. (Oh, except that Skrillex's 2012 song Bangarang is based on a slang term from this movie, which I definitely realized for the first time in 2015.)

There's also a 2017 short film called Bangarang, which is the unofficial origin story of Rufio.

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