Hook Still Brings A Smile To My Face

Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman in Hook. Courtesy of TriStar/Sony.

Hook, featuring a grown-up version of the legendary Peter Pan facing off against the captain, offers a nostalgic trip full of adventure.

Over two decades before Disney wonder what would happen if Christopher Robin grew up, Steven Spielberg also tackled a similar idea.  What if Peter Pan grew up?  In this case, Pan becomes a workaholic father known as Peter Banning (Robin Williams).  Oh yeah, his wife, Moira (Caroline Goodall), also happens to be Wendy’s (Maggie Smith) granddaughter.  This is a brilliant way of tying things back into the original J.M. Barrie story. After a quick prologue setting the scene, the Banning family is off to London to a charity dinner honoring Wendy.  They leave their children, Jack (Charlie Korsmo) and Maggie (Ambert Smith), home with Tootles (Arthur Malet) and housekeeper Liza (Laurel Cronin).

After the dinner, the family returns home to learn that the children were kidnapped by Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman).  It had been so long that Peter forgot that magic existed.  It takes Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts) coming to the rescue and taking him to Neverland.  Of course, Banning doesn’t remember and Captain Hook gives him three days.  The Lost Boys are led by Rufio (Dante Basco) and while they initially mock Peter, they come to realize that the grown-up Banning is the former Pan.

Banning also starts to remember.  The flashbacks during a scene with Tinkerbell play a key role in moving the Peter Pan story forward.  They show us how Pan becomes Banning.  If you blink, you’ll miss a teenage Gwyneth Paltrow portraying Wendy.

By making Peter Pan grow up, it allows Spielberg to tackle the father-son relationship between Peter and Jack.  Smee (Bob Hoskins) encourages Hook to use Banning’s weaknesses to their advantage.  It doesn’t work with Maggie but unfortunately, Jack gets seduced by the dark side.  Peter is always working so he’s never there to see Jack playing baseball.  And yet, it’s a baseball game in Neverland that serves as the inciting moment to get Peter to start remembering.  True enough, this comes as a shock to both of his children.

A number of celebrities make cameos in Hook, be it credited or uncredited.  Among them are George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Glenn Close, David Crosby, and Jimmy Buffet.

A year and a half before Jurassic Park hit theaters, Hook became the first Steven Spielberg-directed film that I saw in theaters.  I cannot remember if I saw the film before the the television production starring Mary Martin or the animated Disney film.  You can never forget a Peter Pan film after you see it.  It had been some time since I watched the film before watching again on Monday afternoon.  I can confirm that the film still brings a smile to my face.  A lot of this has to do with with not only Robin Williams but another masterpiece score from John Williams.  It’s a shame that Williams missed out on an Oscar nomination.

Hook certainly isn’t among Spielberg’s best work.  I don’t even think it’s among his worst work.  If you ask me, Hook is somewhere in the lower middle.  This could also be because of the nostalgia, too.  Hell, the film also picked up five Oscar nominations.  One thing to think about is how the film could be made differently today with the digital technology.  Hook was pre-Jurassic Park so it came before digital technology really started to change the way Hollywood worked.  Maybe it’s the nostalgia talking but I still enjoy watching Hook as much as I did when I was a kid.

DIRECTOR:  Steven Spielberg
SCREENWRITERS:   Jim V. Hart and Malia Scotch Marmo
CAST:  Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins, Maggie Smith

TriStar Pictures opened Hook in theaters on December 11, 1991. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.