“Hook! Hook! Where’s the Hook?!”
Released: December 11, 1991
Story: 40-something Peter Banning (Robin Williams) must travel to Neverland (a place he thought only existed in J.M. Barrie’s famous works) in order to rescue his two children. They have been captured by the dasterdly Captain James Hook (Dustin Hoffman) and his band of pirates, one of them being his right hand man played by Bob Hoskins. Hook wants to lure Peter back to Neverland in order to start a grand war. Peter will not only have to regain the trust of the Lost Boys but also learn how to fight, how to fly, how to…crow…if he hopes to rescue his kids and return home.
Thoughts: The biggest crime of Hook is it doesn’t reach the heights it aims for. It’s still good. The cast has three of my favorite actors (Williams, Hoffman, and Hoskins). It has an interesting, hardly touched upon subplot dealing with Hook’s relationship with death. He’s bored with Neverland. So bored he’s depressed and suicidal. He can’t leave Neverland because then he’ll start to age and eventually die. His only hope to reinvigorate his life is to bring back his arch nemesis Peter Pan for a great battle. It’s communicating the downsides of living forever, which is a fascinating subject. I didn’t notice this underlying motivation for Hook, but as an adult, it adds new dimensions to an often flat character. I’m not surprised more wasn’t done with it. This is a family film.
But enough of all that. How’s our dear Mr. Williams, the man I’m here to talk about for the next week. This was one of my earliest experiences with him, one of the reasons why I picked it to review, and he’s not bad, if a little wasted. He doesn’t employ much, if any, of his legendary improv skills and the humor coming out of his mouth often doesn’t feel like his style of comedy. But how can you dislike him when he’s still so darn warm and endearing despite his character being a bit of an a-hole in the beginning.
The designs and writing are what do the film in. Neverland just feels off. I can’t quite place what is wrong with it, but it’s huge flowers, bright blues and yellows, and skate boarding ramps for the Lost Boys aren’t Neverland to me. The story also doesn’t capture the magic of other Pan adaptations.
The end result is a movie that doesn’t quite fly but float to an entertaining but not overly special fantasy.