Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hook (1991)

“You know that place between sleep and awake? That place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you, Peter Pan. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”

Title: Hook
Genre: Fantasy
Year: 1991
Rated: PG

Robin Williams as Peter Banning/Peter Pan
Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook
Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell
Charlie Korsmo as Jack Banning
Plot: When Captain Hook kidnaps his children, an adult Peter Pan must return to Neverland and must reclaim his youthful spirit in order to challenge his nemesis.

What if Peter Pan grew up?

First Viewing: Wow…uh, early 90’s, my other grandma’s house.
Added to The List: Always been there.

Comments I have a theory. How much you like a movie is directly proportionate to the age at what you first watched it. This is especially true of “bad” movies. Several critically panned movies make my list. Usually this is either because it strikes an emotional chord with me or because it is deeply rooted in my childhood. This is case with Steven Spielberg’s 1991 fantasy flop, Hook.

To begin with, I love Peter Pan. Love it. The Disney version was one of my very favorite childhood movies before I entered first grade. In fact, for my fourth, fifth, and sixth birthdays, I wished I could fly like Peter Pan. This resulted in several rug burns on my face after nose diving off of the highest piece of furniture in my living room. My faith in birthday wishes has never been the same.

I can’t exactly remember my first viewing of Hook. I know that my grandma (not the Son-In-Law grandma, my other one) had it and I would watch it whenever my parents dumped me on her doorstep. It didn’t bother me that the movie was live action or the characters were new (a.k.a. Rufio) or different. Hook was a continuation of a story I loved and that was all that mattered.

As a kindergartener, I was unaware of Hook’s financial and critical failure. And even if I was an economically savvy five-year-old and understood the power of the opening weekend, I doubt it would have mattered. I realize that kids aren’t the most objective film critics. A talking squirrel and a few fart jokes will hold most children’s attention. But there are some kids movies that you never outgrow. That is more evident than ever when it comes to my generation, a generation that had a wide variety of family friendly movies. Some stand the test of puberty and some don’t.

So, when I read the 17 year old reviews for this movie, I can’t quite comprehend why everyone disliked it so much. I don’t want to comprehend it either. I’d rather remain blissfully ignorant to Hook’s many faults. To me, why fix what isn’t broken?

Although fond childhood memories are the biggest reason for Hook’s spot on my list, there is more. And it involves Tinkerbell. First and foremost: I have never liked Tinkerbell. Currently, Disney has yanked their Tink on the Disney Princess bandwagon and you can find her upturned, snotty face on the t-shirts of third graders at an elementary school near you. I’ve always been more of a “Wendy girl” myself. Tinkerbell is irritating, spiteful, and psychotically jealous not someone who’s merchandise I’d own. So what’s the deal?

In Hook, Tinkerbell is portrayed less like Peter’s bratty, immature protector and more like his fun loving companion. And she talks. And actually says a few fairly intelligent things. Overall, even though she’s played by Julia Roberts (who was only cast because she was Hollywood’s current hot young thing) she is still more likable than Disney’s or P.J. Hogan’s Tinkerbell.

Also added to Tink’s more laid back persona, is the unrequited love factor. In the original story/play/book/movie (whatever) it’s quite obvious that Tink is protective of Peter and doesn’t want Wendy giving him any thimbles. She even goes as far as to attempt to kill Wendy. This selfish act doesn’t seem to fit Hook’s Tinkerbell. I think this is because of the scene when Tink sees Peter kiss Wendy’s granddaughter (and his future wife), Moira. She knows she’s lost her best friend forever. I don’t think Tinkerbell feels a romantic love for Peter at this point. It’s definitely a friend-love. I’m not sure exactly what the rules about relationships between young boys and pixies are, but I’m certain it’s not in any way sordid. It isn’t until later when she sees him as an adult when she magically wishes herself big enough to kiss him. But, in the end, she sends him off to do what he came to do: rescue his kids from Hook.

I’ve read several reviews on this movie. Generally, Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of Captain Hook is disliked. Why? I’m not sure. He is Captain Hook to me and probably a lot of other people. I also like Robin Williams as Peter. Bob Hoskins is excellent as Smee. The kids who play Jack and Maggie are believable. And Dame Maggie Smith plays a great Granny Wendy. The only casting I don’t agree with is Julia Roberts, and even then, it doesn’t change the way I feel about Hook.

All in all, this movie gives the Peter Pan legend an interesting twist. It’s an angle I think deserved to be explored. (Similarly to what happens to Dorothy after she returns from Oz (Oooh...more on that later)). It might be hard for some to see their favorite childhood hero as an adult. Or a father. Or a bad father. But that’s the good thing about sequels: if you don’t like them, you can always pretend they don’t exist.

Favorite Screencap

Tinkerbell witnesses Peter's first kiss with Wendy's granddaughter, Moira, and realizes that he will soon leave her to grow up.

Next Film: The Departed

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