Hook feels as much like a massive amusement park ride as it does a film. Spirited, rambunctious, often messy and undisciplined, this determined attempt to recast the Peter Pan story in contempo terms [from a screen story by Jim V. Hart and Nick Castle, from J.M. Barrie's play and books] splashes every bit of its megabudget (between $60 million and $80 million) onto the screen.

Hook feels as much like a massive amusement park ride as it does a film. Spirited, rambunctious, often messy and undisciplined, this determined attempt to recast the Peter Pan story in contempo terms [from a screen story by Jim V. Hart and Nick Castle, from J.M. Barrie’s play and books] splashes every bit of its megabudget (between $60 million and $80 million) onto the screen.

Screenplay sends a modern, grown-up Peter, a man who has forgotten his youth, back to Neverland to rescue his children from the clutches of the ever-vengeful Captain Hook.

Setup is deftly done, sweeping the viewer right into the world of the Banning family. Peter (Robin Williams) is a workaholic corporate attorney. But he manages to tear himself away to take his wife Moira (Caroline Goodall) and children Jack (Charlie Korsmo) and Maggie (Amber Scott) to London to visit Granny Wendy (Maggie Smith).

Back in Blighty, Jack and Maggie are spirited away, courtesy of Captain James Hook. Mystified, Peter is visited by Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts) and, 36 minutes into the story, is transported to Neverland, where Hook (Dustin Hoffman) lords over a raucous Pirate Town from the deck of his enormous ship.

Sweet and likable through the first half-hour, pic becomes dominated by a vaudeville tone and in-jokes during the pirate section (Glenn Close turns up in a male disguise as a sailor victimized by Hook).

Despite the cascade of wondrous special effects, massive battles between the kids and pirates and face-offs between Pan and Hook, the film doesn’t truly take flight. Jokiness gets the better of both Hoffman and Bob Hoskins, who plays the captain’s loyal hand Smee. Williams inhabits the main role splendidly. But the standout supporting turns come from Smith, perfect as the aged Wendy, and Goodall.

1991: Nominations: Best Art Direction, Costume Design, Song (‘When You’re Alone’), Makeup, Visual Effects

Hook

Production

Tri-Star/Amblin. Dir Steven Spielberg; Producer Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Gerald R. Molen; Screenplay Jim V. Hart, Malia Scotch Marmo; Camera Dean Cundey; Editor Michael Kahn; Music John Williams Art Dir Norman Garwood

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1991. Running time: 144 MIN.

With

Dustin Hoffman Robin Williams Julia Roberts Bob Hoskins Maggie Smith Charlie Korsmo
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