The humdrum Cinderella and half-assed Jungle Book weren’t enough — Disney is continuing with its program of turning old cartoons into new live action CGI films with a live action adaptation of Peter Pan.
Wait, didn’t we just do this? No, that was Pan, the awkward and unpopular movie with Hugh Jackman as Captain Hook and Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily.
But Disney is forging ahead and will be releasing a new Peter Pan movie directed by Ken Lowery. Ken Lowery isn’t a bad sort and he’s successfully directed family films before, so maybe this won’t be a total disaster. I mean, if we ignore the fact that we just had a Peter Pan movie only months ago and ignoring the even more important fact that no live action Pan movie will ever be as good as Hook. That’s just a fact.
In Hook, Peter has left Neverland behind and is now married with two kids. Over the years his memories of being a Lost Boy have faded and he’s become just another boring adult with bills and a bad back. But through a series of ridiculous events, Peter and his kids end up back in Neverland, where his children are kidnapped by Captain Hook and Peter is forced to come to terms with his life choices, team up with the Lost Boys to go after Hook, and eventually reconnect with his kids.
It also features Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell, many many clocks, Dustin Hoffman as a florid and rage-filled Hook and, of course, Dante Basco as Rufio. You remember Rufio, Don’t you?
What’s Peter’s response to these sick aerials? “You’re not old enough to shave. What are you doing flying around with a sword? This is an insurance nightmare.” Oh grown up Peter.
Rufio, speaking for us all, reminds us that “all grownups are pirates.” Now that I’m a grown up I can confirm. It’s true. All grown ups ARE pirates. Especially the grown up lawyers. It’s only after grown up Peter finds his own inner Lost Boy that Rufio will cede leadership of his band of rapscallions, declaring Robin Williams to be the Pan and joining with him in rescuing Peter’s kids from Hook.
I like Hook. I like it a lot. I’m mad they’re making another Peter Pan movie and tarnishing its cornball legacy. So I thought I’d see what some of my WWAC friends had to say about this new Disney adaptation.
Desiree Rodriguez: So I’ll start this off by saying I haven’t really enjoyed any of Disney’s recent forays into live adaption fairytale adaptations. I felt Cinderella was a huge insult to abuse victims everywhere (myself included). Maleficent is the only moderate exception, which I mainly attribute to Angelina Jolie’s acting. I suspect like all the other Disney fairytale adaptations, the main cast will be majority white, but hey, if they cast a Native American woman as Tiger Lily for once (unlike Pan) that’ll be a win in their favor right?
Peter Pan, to me, is similar to Peter Parker (alliteration I like it) in that both franchises keep getting remade, rebooted, and reimagined over and over within short periods of time. Pan only came out a few years ago. The live Peter Pan musical was also only a short time ago. There have been many Peter Pan adaptations, remakes, and reimaginings. At this point, other than slapping the Disney name on it and updating the special effects (which I’m sure will be stunning) what’s the point?
Emma Houxbois I’m not sure I really get the fixation on repeatedly trotting out Peter Pan without really, you know, trying anything. Is it heretical to say that I think Hook has a pretty dull legacy? [Editors note: Yes Emma, it is.] Dustin Hoffman and Bob Hoskins turned in really powerful performances, and we also got Dante Basco in the bargain, but nothing really got worked through or reconsidered in a novel or illuminating way. If you want a really engaging look at boyhood and imagination in contemporary media you’re, uh, gonna watch Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, or Adventure Time, right? Finn, especially, has really usurped that place in the popular culture.
I haven’t seen Cinderella, but I really deeply loved Maleficent, Mirror Mirror, and Snow White and the Huntsman out of the recent live action fairy tale movies. The key to both SWATH and Maleficent is that, their individual charms aside, they completely subverted the idea of true love’s first kiss and built outwards from there. To do something genuinely interesting with Peter Pan, I think you’d really have to commit to some kind of critical examination of boyhood in popular fiction. I think it would be a real outside chance to see something like that, but I never thought I’d see Maleficent reworked into a story about motherhood and otherness or Snow White reconfigured into a dying and rising god figure, so who knows.
Kate Tanski: Hook is still my favorite of all the Peter Pan movies, and one of the reasons that I think it succeeds is that it’s not an origin story. Since the entire premise is as that of a sequel, we get to skip out on the whole Wendy Darling story and being introduced to characters we’ve all already know about. The other reason I think Hook succeeds is that Hook isn’t a story for kids not wanting to grow up. It’s for adults who already have. Peter Pan has grown up. He’s gotten married, he has a wife and two kids, and leads an utterly boring human existence. Hook is Peter’s return to Neverland, back to his essential self, and it’s a story that as I grow older and closer to middle age, I identify more strongly with. And there’s also the fact that I learned later that Dustin Hoffman and Bob Hoskins had decided to play Hook and Smee as an old gay couple. Brilliant. There is no other interpretation.
Romona Williams: If you even bring up the movie Hook around me, the inside of my mind plays the scene where Dante Basco comes out skateboarding into the Lost Boy’s tree fort and everyone shouts “RU-FI-OOOOO!” And then I get that song “Hook, Hook, show us the Hook. Hook, Hook, show us the Hook” in my head for an hour. It also stars Charlie Korsmo, that kid from What About Bob? as Peter’s son John. Did you know he could have had Elijah Wood’s career? He turned down several acting roles (in The Good Son, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, North, etc.), in order to pursue academic goals, but in a parallel universe he was Frodo in LOTR. Hook isn’t a great movie, but its saving grace is that it knew it wasn’t a great movie. It was a fun movie that didn’t pretend to be more profound than it really was. It showcased the tragedy of growing up without being overly sappy in the process. It’s also the only Robin Williams movie I truly like. It’s clear that it wasn’t a perfect movie, but maybe Hollywood should take a 10-20 year break from taking another crack at it.
Al Rosenberg: Someone told me just yesterday that they hate Hook. I’ve decided to no longer be friends with this person.
I no longer trust Disney, given their failures at keeping my interest with recent live-action attempts. However, Peter Pan is one of my absolute favorite characters. I’ve always found Neverland to be such a rich, imaginative environment.
That being said, each “new” attempt makes me so anxious.
I didn’t watch 2015’s Pan because of Rooney Mara’s character. 2014 was the stage version, which I watched with some kids I was babysitting and they were really bored. Have you watched 2012’s East of Kensington? That was interesting. 2011’s Neverland miniseries was just not fun. 2004’s Finding Neverland was a travesty. 2003’s Peter Pan … I remember the mermaids?
You know what was awesome though? Hook. It was quirky, fun, and that food fight scene is one of the most memorable scenes of any movie I’ve ever watched.
(What ever happened to the Peter and the Starcatchers movie??)
If we must have another, let it be full of things we’ve yet to see. Stop retelling the same story. Let the characters shift in their roles. Let’s see other parts of the island. Let’s let the sleeping Darlings lie. The Lost Boys don’t grow up, but the movie can.