There are certain movies that we watched as children that, as adults, don’t resonate as powerfully upon revisit. But then there are some movies that entrance us when we are young and work on remarkably different levels once we reach adulthood.
At the risk of exposing my youth, and striking another blow to my own credibility, for me, Hook was just such a film. As a kid, I loved the physical comedy, the swashbuckling, and the unmitigated cool of Rufio. But the movie took on an entirely new life for me when I revisited it recently, thanks to Netflix’s Watch Instantly. We highly urge you to revisit it yourself.
Who Made It: Hook is yet another in the cavalcade of classics from the incredible Steven Spielberg. Hook was Spielberg’s first film of the ‘90s, leading off a slew of some of his best work: Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan. The ‘90s were definitely good for Steven.
Who’s In It: The cast of Hook features a pirate shipload of talent. The film stars Robin Williams in the lead role of Peter Banning, supported by the likes of Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins and Maggie Smith. Spielberg has demonstrated a knack for assembling unique ensemble casts. Hell, even singer Phil Collins shows up at one point.
What’s It About: Peter Banning is a man sadly more devoted to his career than his family. He is constantly breaking promises and failing to meet commitments that don’t involve contracts and hostile takeovers. While visiting Granny Wendy, the woman who ran the orphanage where he grew up, Peter’s children are abducted. A note left in their empty room indicates that a Captain James Hook took the children, and that Peter must come to a place called Neverland to retrieve them. Suddenly, a long-forgotten era of his past begins to resurface.
Why You Should Watch It:
Hook is a fascinating continuation of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. For many of us, the only facets of the story we know come from the Disney animated version. We know that Wendy Darling, and her brothers, are transported to Neverland by Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. We know about the sinister Captain Hook, the Lost Boys, and the crocodile. What Spielberg’s film does is give us an extension of the story, a sort of “where are they now” for the beloved characters. It blurs the lines between fantasy and reality by featuring a grownup Pan who not only no longer believes in Neverland, but has in fact become amnesic of his childhood and the adventures there contained.
We get to see what has become of Neverland in Pan’s absence. We see a very bored, unfulfilled Captain Hook, played with powerful emotional complexity by the amazing Dustin Hoffman; one of his best roles in my opinion. Hook has become obsessed with the idea of another great battle with Pan and seeks his return despite how much he hates him. In this way, the character is acknowledging how their conflict defines him. For his part, Pan must reconnect with his roots in order to save the most treasured part of his new life; identity crises kind of rum rampant in Hook. We also get to see what became of Hook’s feud with the crocodile and how the hierarchy of Lost Boys has changed. It’s a distinctly unromantic examination of Neverland, which allows us to connect more directly to the weight and contours of the world of the film.
That’s not at all to say that Hook is devoid of magic, it would be damn near impossible for Steven Spielberg to make a film about Neverland without it being loaded with spectacle. The production design of the film is absolutely breathtaking; allowing for the audience to become acquainted with the full of gamut of both the familiar and wholly original nuances surrounding Neverland. The design of the Lost Boys’ tree houses, the massive and foreboding skeletal prow of Hook’s ship, right down to the rainbow-colored fluff of the Lost Boy feast give a new visual fingerprint to an age-old tale. The cinematography as Pan first learns to fly, sweeping and unbridled, is a perfect tribute to what made us fall in love with this story as children.
Whether we like it or not, we are not Pan and therefore must grow up. But fortunately our appreciation for films like Hook mature right alongside us.