Peter Pan Reviewby Karina Montgomery (karina AT cinerina DOT com)
January 6th, 2004
After Disney turned J.M. Barrie's mature play into a fun little tale about permanent play time, it's hard to recall why Peter Pan got his own syndrome named after him - until you see this adaptation. I fully admit to not having read the original for a very, very long time, but this is the kind of Classic Movie made from a novel which will be ignored in theatres and then replayed a zillion times over the next hundred years because it was made just exactly right.
For the first time apparently in history, Peter is being played by a young (I'd guess 13-14 year old) boy instead of a middle aged woman on a wire. This makes a great bit of difference, because they cast the impishly dreamy Jeremy Sumpter (Frailty) as Peter and the future lust object Rachel Hurd-Wood as Wendy and the prepubescent sparks fly. Disney's animated version and the stage musical have lost a lot of the darker and romantic side of this tale, and it's back in full force here, supported by some seriously hard core effects.
I was actually reminded frequently of my biggest high school era crush by this Peter (in a complimentary way), so knowing are his smiles and so wicked is the sparkle in his eye. His macho pasturing and innocent sensuality are just perfect. And then of course, Peter Pan Syndrome kicks in, and we remember why this story is told again and again in the first place (beyond a chance to play with pirates). The pirates are big fun, cartoonishly scary, but really just little boys at heart.
Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs, doubling as Mr. Darling, father to Wendy and the boys) is deliciously wicked, yet completely real and adult in profound ways. His world is adulthood with no play, and Peter's world is playtime with no adult responsibilities. Wendy is drawn to both, but ultimately knows her place is in the middle, where she came from. It's fantastic to see fight scenes between age-appropriate Hook and Pan, it makes everything more dire and more profoundly resonant of the theme.
Inbetween all this deep dark profound stuff is kid fantasy set pieces to beat the band,with all kinds of fun adventure stuff (and even a few visual Disney homages). Director PJ Hogan (believe it or not, My Best Friend's Wedding) knows that the enduring appeal of Peter Pan for the kids are the Lost Boys and Tink and the mermaids and of course, the tick tocking crocodile, searching to finish off Hook. He exercises a little Peter Pan of his own with the fun.
While you're watching it, it seems like a straightforward, been there done that adaptation, but it is a solid movie, not *too* scary for kids but definitely with important things to say about love and maturity versus acting grown up and bossy, and a good bet overall. And Jason Isaacs totally kicks ass.
These reviews (c) 2003 Karina Montgomery. Please feel free to forward but credit the reviewer in the text. Thanks. You can check out previous reviews at:
http://www.cinerina.com and http://ofcs.rottentomatoes.com - the Online Film Critics Society http://www.hsbr.net/reviews/karina/listing.hsbr - Hollywood Stock Exchange Brokerage Resource
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