Good Morning, Neverland
Steven Spielberg's "Hook" is a fun movie, a colourful, imaginative adventure movie made for families but it has one problem and for some a major problem. The storyline to "Hook" takes the twist that Peter Pan has grown up and somehow forgotten all about Neverland and his youth, becoming a workaholic father who constantly lets his children down. But rather than building on this and giving us Peter Pan in a new world the storyline sends him back to Neverland and once more facing his foe Captain Hook. And in doing so "Hook" for all it's dressing up is far too close to just a reworking of "Peter Pan" rather than something new. As such for those who expected something new and imaginative will find "Hook" disappointing but no doubt it will entertain young children with all its adventure and comedy.
He vowed he would never grow up but Peter Pan (Robin Williams - Dead Poets Society) has, he is now a husband and father with two children and a career that he is dedicated to, so much so that he constantly lets his children down by not keeping his promises. What's worse is that he doesn't remember anything of his past and is now known as Peter Banning. But on a trip to London with his family to visit Granny Wendy (Maggie Smith - Keeping Mum) he is forced to face his old foe Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman - Rain Man) who kidnaps his children and takes them back to Neverland. Peter's only hope is that between Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts - Dying Young) and The Lost Boys they can help Peter rediscover who he really is and help him save his children from Hook.
Ignoring what the storyline to "Hook" ends up becoming the set up is sadly a little disappointing. Ok, so the idea of Peter Pan having grown up, had children and gained middle age spread isn't that bad but then making him a workaholic who keeps on disappointing his children and in particular his son feels too much of a cliche. The workaholic father has been seen countless times before on the big screen and you know what it means, that is Peter through what happens will discover where his priorities really lie and gain the respect of his children again. Yes, "Hook" is a children's movie but it is one which adults will end up watching and something a little bit more ingenious wouldn't go a miss.
Fortunately the set up is swiftly dealt with and before we know it Peter and family have not only ventured from America to Britain to see Granny Wendy but also introduced us to Captain Hook who steals Peter's children. What follows from here is a blend of the "Peter Pan" story with Peter battling Captain Hook to get his children back and a new story where the now adult Peter is taken to Neverland where The Lost Boys and Tinkerbell try to help him not only save his children but rediscover who he is. On one hand there is something fun from this storyline with Peter rediscovering his magic and imagination but it seems a little of a cop out when it ends up little more than Peter verses Captain Hook. Oh there are some embellishments to this old rivalry and an amusing climax but I expected something more, something a little more original. Although saying that "Hook" works nicely to get young children interested in "Peter Pan" and hopefully watching the original movie.
The thing is whilst the storyline to "Hook" ends up a little disappointing the blend of humour is marvellous. For young children the whole series of scenes revolving around Peter rediscovering his magic, his ability to fly and so on is great fun with a real sense of adventure thanks to a wonderful theme park style set. And that adventure carries on through the swashbuckling style action as Peter and The Lost Boys battle Captain Hook and his pirates. But at the same time there is plenty of fun for adults as well from jokes such as Glenn Close actually cast in a small role as a pirate through to the dialogue such as Smee warming up the crowd with "Good Morning Neverland" a take on Robin Williams's "Good Morning, Vietnam". And there are plenty more scenes which will appeal to adults especially the attention to detail such as the latch on the bedroom window at Wendy's home looking like Captain Hook's hook. As such "Hook" is entertaining on so many levels whether you are a young child watching the action or an adult who spots all the in jokes.
You would have to say that in many ways Robin Williams is ideal to play Peter Pan thanks to his ability to deliver innocent childlike humour with so much energy. And to be honest Williams does a good job delivering plenty of comedy and capturing elements of Peter Pan such as the stand with his hands on his hips. It does feel like Williams is shackled by a script making the humour feel a little forced but it is so much fun especially when he shares a scene with Dustin Hoffman who is unrecognizable as Captain Hook. It is Hoffman who steals "Hook" from everyone because he creates such a memorable comically nasty character in a wonderfully over the top manner. And going to the in jokes there is a wonderful scene where Peter says to Captain Hook I thought you were taller, a wonderful quip about Hoffman's height.
Aside from Williams and Hoffman who really are the stars of "Hook" you have to say Julia Roberts makes for a rather pleasant Tinkerbell even if her character is a bit weak and Bob Hoskins is wonderfully funny as Smee. And you also have to say whilst Maggie Smith was only 57 when she was cast as the much older Granny Wendy she does it so brilliantly, a role which she plays so naturally.
What this all boils down to is that on one hand "Hook" is a little disappointing because the storyline is a reworking of the "Peter Pan" story with a cliche workaholic father element thrown in. But on the other hand the sense of adventure and the comedy is just wonderful and provides something for young and old alike. And whilst it does feel like Robin Williams's sense of fun has been tamed by a script he still delivers many of the movies funnier moments.