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Hook Movie Review

peter children pan spielberg

1991 – Steven Spielberg –

Even though critics called Hook a failure, audiences of all ages embraced it, and director Steven Spielberg made a profit on his tremendously expensive sequel to the tale of Peter Pan. Featuring the very talented Dustin Hoffman as the Captain, the dignified but spirited Maggie Smith as Granny Wendy, and the irrepressible Robin Williams as Peter, the movie is blessed with star power. The filming and sets are visually fascinating, with a three-dimensional Neverland, epic mock-battles, even undersea Splash shots with mermaids. The narrative is Spielberg at his usual high-pace, thrill a minute.

So, what's not to like? Very little, unless you misunderstand the basic issues of the movie. Hook is not an update, sequel, or retelling of the Peter Pan legend, not even to a new generation of children. You are expected to know the original story going in. Hook explores the question: what happens to all of us children, including Peter Pan, when we finally do have to grow up? Is the magic gone forever? Do we sell our souls to make a buck, climb the corporate ladder, and inevitably ignore our own children in the process? It must be a question close to the heart of a hugely successful man like Spielberg. Or is there some way in which we truly never do grow up or grow old? Granny Wendy seems to have the answer, but Peter Banning must learn the hard way, by a trip back to Neverland to find his old nemesis and, incidentally, himself.

Hook includes the classic characteristics of epic: a trip to a faraway place (that is a complete cosmos) and back again, a quest to find or do something heroic, a moral journey, and a discovery of self and purpose. It also involves the great hallmarks of children's literature: the importance of play (the great imaginary supper), the significance of words (is it Home Run or Run Home?), the discovery of our youth through our children (Peter's happy thought that makes him fly is about his fatherhood). One of the great scenes is at the center of Hook: when the youngest Lost Boy takes the face of the aging and cynical Peter Banning in his hands, smooths away the wrinkles and cares, finds the boy again in his eyes, and says “Oh, there you are, Peter!” Our kids love this movie automatically; if we watch it with care, it reminds us that there we are, too.

Cast: Dustin Hoffman (Captain Hook), Robin Williams (Peter Banning/Peter Pan), Julia Roberts (Tinkerbell), Maggie Smith (Granny Wendy), Caroline Goodall (Moira Banning), Bob Hoskins (Smee), Amber Scott (Maggie), Charlie Korsmo (Jack), Arthur Malet (Tootles), Dante Basco (Rufio), Jason Fisher (Ace), Thomas Tulak (Too Small), Raushan Hammond (Thud Butt), Laurel Cronin (Liza), Phil Collins (The Inspector) Screenwriter: Jim V. Hart, Nick Castle, Malia S. Marno Cinematographer: Dean Cundy Composer: John Williams Producer: Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, and Gerald R. Molen for Columbia Pictures Running Time: 142 minutes Format: VHS, LV Awards: Academy Awards, 1991: Nominations: Art Direction/ Set Decoration, Costume design, Makeup, Song (“When You're Alone”), Visual Effects Box Office: $119M (gross).

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