What happens if the boy destined never to grow up grows up?
Written By: Michaela Clement-Hayes
Date: 26th April, 2015
How many of us spent our childhoods jumping out of trees, off swings and into the air in the hope that we too would take to the skies and fly off to Neverland...
The boy who never grew up lives on in a number of films, not least Disney’s classic Peter Pan and the more recent tearjerker Finding Neverland starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet.
However, this epic film from Steven Spielberg looks at what might have happened if Peter Pan had grown up – something JM Barrie never imagined. Peter Banning (Robin Williams) is a workaholic lawyer with two children who he never has time for. He also hates heights and flying.
Yet fate is about to deal him a swift blow and make him head back down Memory Lane. While on a trip to London to honour Granny Wendy (Maggie Smith), his children are kidnapped by Captain James Hook (an unrecognisable Dustin Hoffman) and Peter is forced to try and remember who he really is. Enter Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts) and a bunch of Lost Boys who have three days to whip him into shape.
However, Hook has other plans…
Although many of us might struggle to comprehend Peter Pan as an adult, the film actually doesn’t help us to do so. Writers James V. Hart and Nick Castle choose to portray the grown-up Peter as someone totally different from the Pan we all know and love. He is scared of flying, he doesn’t have time to play and he definitely doesn’t believe in fairies. In fact it’s surprising that we all accept who he is.
But this is a film with a very strong cast, including brief appearances from Gwyneth Paltrow, Glenn Close (who I today found out plays the male pirate shoved in the Boo Box) and Phil Collins.
Robin Williams is – as ever – excellent, particularly his transition from overworked lawyer to super dad, but he is not the main reason you watch the film. The rest of the cast, the magical setting and John Williams’ mesmerising music which make the film unforgettable
As a child I always thought Maggie Smith was the oldest person alive, but her performance is magical – she may be an old lady, but she’s still the little girl who first joined Peter on an adventure in Neverland. Dustin Hoffman is also wonderful – even now I cannot fathom that he plays Hook, which shows how good he is. There’s also a fabulous performance from the hilarious Bob Hoskins as Smee.
The training and battle scenes are a little bit haphazard – in fact one might say borderline ridiculous – leaving a lot (literally) to the imagination and owing a lot to Bugsy Malone – we’re talking gunge, eggs, tomatoes and all sorts of mess that’s used by the Lost Boys to train up Pan and beat the pirates.
However, this makes the death *spoiler alert* of Rufio (Dante Basco) even more sad because it’s that sudden harsh reality in the midst of all the play fighting that really makes you think.
The scenery for the film is stunning, with a beautiful Tolkein-esque Neverland that fits the music perfectly. It’s a shame that watching it in 2015 the green screen does become a bit more obvious, but Hook remains a family classic that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy inside.
After all, to live would be a great adventure…