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A high-flying adventure from the magic of Steven Spielberg, HOOK stars Robin Williams as a grown-up Peter Pan and Dustin Hoffman as the infamous Captain Hook. Joining the fun is Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell, Bob Hoskins as the pirate Smee, and Maggie Smith as Granny Wendy Darling, who must convince middle-aged lawyer Peter Banning that he was once the legendary Peter Pan. And so the adventure begins anew, with Peter off to Neverland to save his two children from Captain Hook. Along the way, he rediscovers the power of imagination, friendship, and of magic. A classic tale updated for children of all ages, HOOK was nominated for five 1991 Academy Awards(r) including Best Visual Effects.
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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.
This rewrite by James V. Hart and Nick Castle deals with a mature Peter Pan in a modern setting. In a role the elfin-faced Williams was born to play,Peter Pan has become attorney Peter Banning, who resides in San Francisco, and has done precisely what he said he wouldn't do: He has grown up.
Married to Moira (Caroline Goodall) the granddaughter of the famed Wendy( Maggie Smith),the latter of whom still resides in London, Banning is a workaholic and a neglectful husband and father, who barely manages to arrive to see his young daughter, Maggie's( Amber Scott) performance in a school play of "Peter Pan", and who misses his son, Jack's (Charlie Corsmo) baseball games altogether,fate will redeem him when he and his family travel to London to attend a banquet in Wendy's honor. During their flight to Britain, Jack occupies himself by drawing a picture that expresses his resentment of his neglectful father.
On the gala evening in question, the children are left at Wendy's home in the company of the housekeeper, Liza(Laurel Cronin), and the now elderly former Lost Boy, Tootles(Arthur Malet).The Grande Dame who has cared for many children over the years, is duly feted and plans for a new addition to the Greater Ormond Street Hospital for Children are revealed.
But at Wendy's home, something sinister is in the air....Wendy and the Bannings return home to find a lengthy scrape in the wall of the stairwell, leading up to the nursery, whose door they open to find their children missing, and a ransom note.
Inspector Good( Phil Collins, of whose music Williams had been a fan), is only marginally helpful. Resolution must come from other sources...namely the appearance of Peter's tomboyish childhood acquaintance, Tinkerbell( Julia Roberts, who is as gamine-like as Robin was elfin-like), who, although initially mistaken for a hallucination by Peter, urges him to remember that he was once Peter Pan, and that he has to save his children from his great nemesis, the titular Captain Hook( Dustin Hoffman).
Tinkerbell takes Peter to Neverland, and slowly, he remembers his past. With help from the Lost Boys ( whose recent 25th anniversary reunion was duly noted), including Pockets (Isaiah Robinson), Ace( Jasen Fisher), Thudbutt (Raushan Hammond), Don't Ask( James Madio), Too Small (Thomas Tulak), Latchboy (Aleo Zuckerman), No Nap(Ahmad Stonor), et. al, Peter prepares for a duel with Hook to ensure the survival of his children.
In the meantime, Hook's henchman, Smee (Bob Hoskins), encourages the Captain to try to win Peter's children over so they won't return to their father.
We review Peter's early life which begins sometime around the turn of the 20th century, during which the infant(Matthew Van Ginkel) overhears his mother(Kelly Rowan) discussing his future with a friend. Not wanting to grow up, he lets his carriage roll downhill, away from the bench where his mother and her friend were talking. Soon he was alone, and Tink found him and took him to Neverland, where his youth is extended. When he returns as a young boy(Ryan Francis), he discovers that his parents have forgotten him, and that he has a sibling he will never know. He eventually encounters Wendy( Gwyneth Paltrow), and watches her age over time. Eventually, he meets her granddaughter, Moira, and decides to grow up so he can marry her and have children, and now he must rescue those children, and become the family man he was meant to be.
Another obstacle to his temporarily regaining leadership over the Lost Boys, is their new leader, Rufio(Dante Basco), a belligerent sort who must be gradually won over as the time for retribution approaches.
Amid many comical moments, there are some violent and tragic ones as well. Williams' "World According to Garp" co-star, Glenn Close blends in as a pirate by the name of "Gutless".
John Williams' musical score lends itself to this relatively light bit of enchantment and sentimentality that is still enjoyable a quarter century after its release.