What if Peter Pan grew up? According to Steven Spielberg, he would become Americanized and look like Robin Williams. Hook tells the story of a grown up Peter Pan, who must return to Neverland to save his kids from the evil Captain Hook. Robin Williams plays Peter Banning, an American lawyer who finds out he is Peter Pan, and Dustin Hoffman plays Captain Hook, the Sleaziest Sleaze of the Seven Seas.
Peter Banning (Robin Williams) is a father and a lawyer, who would rather spend his time lawyering than being with his kids. His wife Moira (Caroline Goodall) worries that Peter isn’t spending enough time with his kids Jack and Maggie (Charlie Korsmo and Amber Scott). Peter misses Jack’s baseball games and is too busy working to notice his kids. The Banning family goes on vacation to visit their Granny Wendy (Maggie Smith). Wendy claims to be the Wendy from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan.
While Peter, Wendy, and Moira are out one night, the kids get kidnapped. The only clue to their abductor is a note signed by a James Hook. Granny Wendy tells Peter that he is Peter Pan, and that only he can save Jack and Maggie. He has a hard time believing her until Tinker Bell (Julia Roberts) shows up and takes him back to Neverland.
Peter finds himself in the midst of a bunch of pirates, including Smee (Bob Hoskins) and the notorious Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman). Hook offers Peter his kids in exchange for a war. Peter has three days to find his inner Pan and fight Captain Hook.
Peter finds his old allies, the Lost Boys. They don’t recognize the old geezer in front of them as their former leader, until Pockets pulls back his wrinkles and finds his long lost friend in the folds. Not all the Lost Boys are convinced that Peter Banning is Peter, most notably Rufio (Dante Basco).
As Peter struggles to discover his inner child, Captain Hook decides to brainwash Jack and Maggie into loving him. Maggie is hard to convince, but Jack already had a strained relationship with his father, so he starts to turn to Hook’s side.
Peter eventually remembers who he is, and what he can do. He finds his happy thought, and he is Peter Pan again. He and the Lost Boys launch an attack on Hook and his pirates, freeing Jack and Maggie. But this is an exciting Hollywood climax, so people die. Like Rufio. Peter and Hook have an exciting duel, culminating in Hook getting devoured by a crocodile clock. Neverland’s a bitch sometimes.
Peter Pan wins, defeats Hook, and frees his kids. And then he goes home. He did what he had to do, and he can’t stay and have fun anymore because reality is waiting. It seems like kind of a bummer way to end a fantasy about childhood immortality, but who am I to judge?
This is probably my definitive childhood movie. I saw this movie when I was six years old in the theaters. I know every single line, every single moment. I grew up on this movie. I could watch it every day and not get tired of it. It’s almost like a part of me. It impacted me, especially lines like not wanting to grow up “because everyone who grows up has to die someday.”
I’ve seen this movie a lot. And I noticed that when the dog is barking and Toodles starts saying Hook (right before the kids get snatched), you can see a teddy bear. The same teddy bear that Peter later finds in Neverland that gives him a happy thought that allows him to fly. And later Hook tells Peter that he’s only dreaming. And Peter wakes up outside in the park… Maybe he was dreaming the whole time.
The imagination banquet, where Peter first uses his imagination, is one of my favorite scenes from any movie. It starts with an awesome battle of wits between Rufio and Peter as they hurl insults back and forth at each other. Peter wins and triumphantly flings an empty spoonful of food at Rufio, and everyone is amazed as brightly colored food smashes into his face. Everyone looks around astounded as the previously empty table is filled with generous platters of the most gorgeous and spectacular dishes you’ve ever seen. It’s a feast fit for a king and your mouth waters just thinking about it. Before the miraculous moment can fully sink in, a food fight starts. Slowly at first, but then it suddenly explodes into a frenzy of food and filth and laughter. The scene represents all the themes of the film.
Robin Williams does a great job playing a workaholic father, and he is able to transition from being a gruff adult into acting like a little kid. He even shaved his arms and chest so he would look more childlike and less like a yeti. That’s commitment.
Hook is one of my favorite movies of all time. I know that doesn’t make it a good movie, but I’m biased. Check it out if you haven’t.
Critically Rated at 16/17