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on April 24, 2001
The subtitle to the play "Peter Pan" is "The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up". Spielberg's sequel could well be called "The Man Who Grew Up Too Much". The story of Peter Pan is reversed, as are many roles. Robin Williams has the easy task of playing the thoughtless parent, the moderate task of playing the grownup Peter Pan, and the incredibly difficult task of making the transition between the two believable.
Dustin's Hoffman's Capt. Hook knows, as do all of us who remember his soliloquy, that no little children love him. His concern with how he will be remembered, and with Good Form, ring quite true to the original. The character is suave, urbane, vicious, captivating, and ultimately tragic.
At first I was annoyed at the modern elements in Never-Never-Land, but I soon realized that they had to be there, as Never-Never-Land was always a compilation of everything Lost Boys found exciting. In the twenties, that included Red Indians, but if they were lost in the 1980s, well then, baseball and skateboards should be included. The original play was Edwardian, but the movie makes no sense unless it's updated.
The role-reversal and eventual re-reversal is fascinating. In the play, the same actor always plays both Hook and the thoughtless and cruel father, Mr. Darling. But here, Peter is the uncaring father and a corporate pirate, while Hook takes the children to Never-Never-Land. The lost boys are, at first, quarrelsome and threatening, while the pirates are a happy adventuresome lot, even sentimental in the lullaby sequence. But while the Lost Boys help Peter recover himself (and to recover their own innocence), Hook's attempt to win over Peter's kids is, in the end, a failure, and we are brought full circle. The final scene of the helpless Hook surrounded by Peter and his boys parallels the earlier scene of the helpless Peter Banning surrounded by Hook and his pirates. ("Somebody lend me a hand." "I already have.")
The movie has one major flaw - most people don't know the Peter Pan legend well enough to really understand it. Seeing the play "Peter Pan" won't help much, either, because there's a lot in the storybook "Peter and Wendy", and in the play's stage directions, that enhances the understanding of the movie Hook. In a scene usually cut from the play, Peter sacrifices himself for Wendy, and thinks he is about to drown. His line is "To die will be an awfully big adventure." Later, when Wendy and the Lost Boys are leaving Never-Land, Peter is left alone, slumped in his chair. The stage directions state that at this point, if Peter only understood a little more, he would say, "To live would be an awfully big adventure." Hook is the story of how Peter finally learns that to live is, indeed, an awfully big adventure. Along the way, he must also discover what a Happy Thought for a grown-up is, and that a man with no childhood is as incomplete as a boy who would not grow up.
The pretend-food that was always Peter's favorite kind of meal is used to excellent effect. I found the first moment when Peter's adult façade started to break down surprisingly believable. He is in an insult contest, and losing badly, until he finds the intersection between his grownup life and the childish contest. He wins with the biggest, most impressive insult, ending with "... don't mess with me, man, I'm a lawyer."
Maggie Smith's Wendy fills in the roles of both Wendy and Mrs. Darling from the play. Her concern with the night-lights is especially fulfilling. We are also re-introduced to Tootles, who was the Lost Boy who always missed the adventure, and so he does again. Several times in the movie, the first time I saw it, I mouthed the dialogue along with the actors, because I knew that after Hook said, "Prepare to die", Peter had to reply, "Dark and sinister man, have at thee." There's a brief appearance of Michael's bear and John's top hat, which they took with them to Never-Never-Land so many years ago. Lisa and Nana return (Nana IX, really), and many other details make it a wonderful reunion. Bob Hoskins's Smee and Julia Roberts's Tinkerbell are true to the original, and yes, she says The Line She Had to Say.
Yes, Peter Pan grew up. But he didn't do it when he became a lawyer; he did it in Hook.
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VINE VOICEon November 23, 2005
Some people think you have to be "3 years old or in a coma" to enjoy this film. Rubbish! My wife and I are well-educated and well into our "senior" years, but far from senile. We think this is one of Spielberg's very best, an unmitigated treat from beginning to end. The cast is superb from top to bottom, and we also think John Williams's score has some of his very best music. (For confirmation, listen to the series of excerpts he recorded with the Boston Pops by programing your player to skip the other tracks. Each piece stands on its own without the film's images to support it.) Finally, we think those who hate the film have the same problem Peter has when he first sits down to "eat" with the Lost Boys in Neverland: a lack of imagination and sense of fun. They need to loosen up and, as the saying goes, get a life.
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VINE VOICEon December 21, 1999
This movie is so much more than a children's fable. It is a magical reminder of how powerful each of us really is. The movie begins with Peter Banning (Attorney at Law) who forgets the truth of who he is. He becomes obsessed with success, drinks too much and avoids his family. Through a series of events he is forced to look within for the "real" him, Peter Pan. Peter Pan knows that all he has to do is think "one happy thought" and he can fly. I think this is true of all of us. The more we remember and honor who we are and the more we focus on the positive, the better life works. Peter Banning was a miserable, "fat old grandpa man" but when he remembers who he is, he's filled with boundless joy and energy. A very spiritual message indeed.
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on July 11, 2004
For a movie going on lucky 13 years old, it's still as fun to watch as it was the first time I saw it in the theaters. Peter Banning is a well off American lawyer married to the great grandaughter of Wendy Moira Angela Darling...Mora Darling. He also has two kids, Jack and Maggie. However, supporting for his family has become a full time job and as such he's forgotten all about having an imagination, playing with his kids, spending time with his family, and enjoying his life. And in the middle of all of this, there's Capt. James S. Hook, life long enemy of Peter Pan (Banning, though unbeknownst to him). In an act of vengeance, he kidnaps Banning's kids in the night, and tinkerbell comes home to bring Peter back to Never Neverland and make Peter remember the life he left behind and the fight that was never finished.
Mr. Spielberg went all out on this movie, and it shows. There's a lot of heart and soul here from the pirate ships to the lost boys hideout to London and back again. At the same time, there's a lot of heart in both the screenplay and the actors embodiment of the characters. I don't think there will ever be a Hook as good as the one that Dustin Hoffman has done in this film, Bob Hoskins is always a pleasure to watch and his comedic timing is near perfect, causing everything from a slight chuckle to uproarious laughter to pass your lips after each scene he's in, and William's Peter Banning/Pan, while extrodinarily silly and misguided at times, comes around brilliantly, and the first time you watch him fly you can't help but grin from ear to ear.
The child talent is always a risky business, but if you accept that the kids are not going to be the best actors in the world, you realize that most of them do the script justice, whether they know they are or not. Charlie Korsmo, along with Dante Basco, are clearly the most talented, carrying their scenes with Williams and Hoffman very well.
John Williams score is as wonderful as it ever was (you can hear some of the framework for the Harry Potter music in this particular score)...
And finally, there's the message..."never grow up". It's the same message from the original movie, but how it gets there is slightly different. As we watch Peter Banning remember and relive the life he left behind, we realize what he realizes; growing old doesn't mean you have to grow up...and you have to live...for that is the "great adventure".
At 2 hours and 20 minutes, the movie drags here and there a bit from time to time. And on no fault of the original production, the special effects of the film have not held up as well as they could have in the last 13 years. The movie is starting to look it's age. But I think no matter how old this movie gets, there will always be people who will be taken back by the simple premise of this movie and embrace it for the wonderful way it's taken the original Peter Pan story to a whole new level...and beyond.
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on November 5, 2001
Steven Spielberg's Hook is a wondrous film full of great color and fantastic visuals. It's the kind of warm and fuzzy movie to be enjoyed time and again. Robin Williams stars as a grown up Peter Pan(now named Peter Panning), who doesn't remember who he really is. While on a trip to Old Wendy's place, his two children are kidnapped by Captain Hook. With the help of Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell, Peter has to go to Never Never Land to save his kids, battle Captain Hook, and realize that he is the one and only Peter Pan. The costumes are great, the sets are awe inducing, and the actors are all game. People, I ask you, who is better at playing at a person who refuses to grow up than Robin Williams?. I don't think the part could of been better cast. Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook is an image to behold. It's a classic Hoffman performance. Keep an eye out for cameos by Phil Collins, Glenn Close, and a very young Gwynneth Paltrow. This movie should entertain kids and adults alike. Kids will cherish their youth, while adults will most definitley be transported back to a magical time to think about their own youth. This is a whimsical fairy tale that's a delight from the first to last frame. I can't believe why so many people have a deep disliking of this movie. Oh well. Their loss. Kudos to Spielberg for delivering a modern day fairy tale for viewers to cherish for years to come. I'm hooked!. Sorry.
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The first time I watched this movie I wasn't too impressed. Looking back I'd have to say this negative first impression was totally my fault and not the films. I guess it just didn't fit my preconceived notion of what Neverland should be like and simply didn't give the movie a chance to pull me into its wonderfully imaginary landscape of people and places. Fortunately my daughter loved it and forced me to watch it with her over and over and over again. Once I learned to let myself go and become a child (which is what this film is about in the first place), I fell in love with it!

While some Amazon reviewers have questioned the choice of Robin Williams for the lead role of Peter Panning, I found him to be absolutely perfect in the part of the middle-aged workalcoholic who had forgotten all about his childhood adventures as the legendary Peter Pan. Then of course you have stellar performances by the rest of the all-star cast: Dustin Hoffman (Captain Hook), Bob Hoskins (Smead), Julia Roberts (Tinkerbell) and Maggie Smith (Granny Wendy). Lesser known, but three of my personal favorites in the movie were: Caroline Goodall (Moira Panning), Dante Basco (Rufio) and Amber Scott (Maggie Panning).

Become A Child Again! It Will Be An Awfully Big Adventure!
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on May 24, 2001
Boo, says the old woman in princess bride at the Critics. Hook is in my top five favorite movies without a doubt. The ones who don't like it, don't understand the underlying thread. Peter grows up - and forgets his childhood as the flying menace. He is even afraid of heights! It doesn't matter whether you are a spielberg fan or not, if you love interesting films that hauntingly leave a mark of childishness on your heart, then this is for you. I have watched this film more than any other movie. I seriously KNOW for a fact that since I was 11 I have viewed it over a hundred times....easily! I had a copy...then I bought it on vhs...then the other day bought it on dvd and it still hasn't lost its meaning to me. I could still watch it twice in a row and not loose an ounce of attention. Maybe it's Robin Williams perfect transition from snobby business man, to the high flying , sword chopping, pirate stomping, peter pan. Or Dustin Hoffman, who endured just as many hours in make-up as he did in Tootsie, to bring to life the ultimate clock-hating villain, who despises the "L" word. Or Bob Hoskins (Who framed Rodger Rabbit), an excellent Smee, more brain than bum-fundled. Julia Roberts had me in the state-of-crush for about 3 years. Anyway, Hook is a 5 star great movie that THE People love. Forget the critics for this one. The dvd is sharp, and sounds terrific. As far as sound, check out Smee's "Good morning neverland." I would seriously enjoy ANY extra's, because the skull and crossbones on this disc represent death to extra lover's. Two-disk anyone?
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on July 6, 2003
People can't seem to agree on how this movie is rated. Unfortunately, it might be a "love it or hate it" thing, in which case reviews are meaningless. I will go ahead and say that I LOVED this movie as a child (well, preteen), and all of my friends did too. I actually liked the Lost Boys, especially Rufio, whose whole character I found very interesting. I didn't like the skateboard bits, but if I were a little boy, I might.I absolutely LOVED Hoffman as Hook - he was funny and sinister all at the same time ("I'm going to do it, and don't try to stop me. Smee, don't you dare try to stop me, Smee, try to stop me. Smee! Try to stop me, I'm commiting suicide here!"). Robing Williams is excellent as always, and Pan's children do a fantastic job. I really empathized with the little girl when I was little. There are a few flaws (I didn't like Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell, actually), but overall this movie is definitely worth a rent. Good for the young and the young-at-heart (sorry for the corny line!), I highly recommend it.
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on June 29, 2003
What if Peter Pan really did grow up? I beleive Mr. Speilburg got it right with this one. His capability is transmogrifying book to film is masterful. Although there are a few minute mistakes, such as Hook's hook suppossedly on the right rather than the left, this film invokes the soul of J.M. Barrie's magical story.

Robin Williams (Good Morning Vietnam) is a perfect choice for Peter Pan, now grown up and known as Peter Banning. Peter, whose past as a free-sprited and ageless Pan, has long forgotten Neverland. Instead his life is about stocks, cell-phones, and an ironic fear of heights. He comes home one night to find that both of his children, Jack and Maggie, have been kidnapped by none other than Captain Hook himself. Granny Wendy (Maggie Smith; Harry Potter I-II)tries hard to explain to him that only he can save his children, for he is really the great Peter Pan.
Dustin Hoffman's (Tootsie) portrayal as Captain James Hooks is remarkable. He emobodies the charecter with wonderful acting skill, right down to Hook's grace, manners, and a distorted belief of "good form". All of his pirate crew, including the lovable Mr. Smee (Bob Hoskins; Who Framed Roger Rabbit)put on a wonderful show.
I hope you enjoy following along with Peter makes as he makes his final trip to Neverland. And with the aid of Tinker Bell (Julia Roberts; Erin Brockavitch) and the Lost Boys, he must remember how to fight, how to crow, and most importantly how to fly, in order to save his own two children from the cunning and evil grasps of Capt. Jas. Hook.
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on August 12, 2014
Robin,we know you are up there in Heaven right now,with all of the other greats who have gone before you(Bruce,Belushi,Foxx,Hicks,Candy,Hartman,Farley,Pryor,Carlin) making all of the angels laugh at your funny jokes :-) We will forever miss you and always remember all of the joy and entertainment that you brought to all of us...RIP Robin Williams 1951-2014
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