Throwback Thursday Review: “Hook” (1991)





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Posted August 11, 2016 by

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There are few movies I can watch again and again and feel the same excitement, have the same emotional investment, each and every time I watch them. “The Shawshank Redemption” is definitely one of them, as well as “Arachnophobia” despite my own crippling fear of spiders. The one that stands on the top of the list, however, is Steven Spielberg’s “Hook”. I can’t tell you how many times I watched this movie as a child and wished I was a lost boy, or how many times I saw it air on network television as a young adult only to mutter the words, “This movie again?” and then watched the entire thing. What I love about it is no matter how old I am when I sit down to watch it, I can relate to at least one character in the story. Now that I’m in my 30’s, work pretty much every day, and have bills to call my own, Peter Banning (Robin Williams) seems a lot less insane and a lot more pragmatic. As a young boy I thought he was the worst father in the world: he put work above everything else and even yells at his own children at one point when they are screaming and jumping on his back while he’s trying to have a business meeting on the phone and his biggest client is about to walk away. Now when I watch it all I can think is, “He should really get back to his business partner before they lose this multi-million dollar deal.” The point of “Hook” though is that growing up is the worst thing because as you get older your responsibilities not only increase in size, they increase in importance. The more responsibilities you take on, the less time you have to enjoy food fights, adventures, and getting lost in the beauty of using your imagination. While attending to the things that matter on a material level, you can never lose sight of enjoying life and spending time with the loved ones that surround you.

Lookie, lookie. I got a hooky

Peter Pan was the greatest hero in Neverland, and an important character of hope and inspiration to children all over the world who had read the books and tales of the supposed fictional character. But what if he was a real person and just forgot? Such is the case in “Hook”. Peter Banning is a successful lawyer with two children, Jack and Maggie (Charlie Korsmo and Amber Scott), and a beautiful wife Moira (Caroline Goodall). Lately his job has taken front and center stage — even when his daughter is literally on front and center stage during a play and he answers his phone for a business call — and his family life is suffering. Upon visiting his Grandmother Wendy (Maggie Smith), Peter is about to be forced to remember his fantastical past when his old nemesis Capt. Hook (Dustin Hoffman) returns to settle the score and steals Peter’s children in order to lure him back to Neverland and a fight to the death. Tinker Bell (Julia Roberts) requests three days in order to get Peter back into his ‘Pan’ shape and must help him find the childlike joy he lost when turning from a child into an adult. If he can’t learn to fly and be the kid everyone remembers him as, Peter will lose his family forever.

First off: Maggie Smith is a vampire. This woman, God bless her soul, has been 80 years old my entire life. As a child I remember thinking, “Wendy is so old. She’s almost dead.” That was twenty-five years ago and Maggie Smith is still acting and kicking ass. I mean, good for her, but seriously: what the hell? Also, as a child I remember Rufio being the biggest bad ass I had ever seen. He was cooler than even Peter Pan — mostly because Peter decided to become an adult which is totally lame — but now when I watch “Hook” he’s just kind of a loud, colorful kid who doesn’t really become cool until he realizes Peter Pan will always be better than him.

I have two things about this movie that really stood out for me: one that escaped me as a kid and seems to escape a lot of the ‘good’ characters in this movie, and another that we don’t get an answer on and never will I suppose. The first thing is how ‘The Lost Boys’ take everything as a game, even when they find themselves in an all out war with Capt. Hook and his pirates. While they’re shooting eggs, candy, and tomatoes at their opponent, the pirates are literally killing them. I found myself talking at my television, trying to warn them that the pirates’ swords were not made out of chocolate, they could end someone’s life, but The Boys just seemed content somersaulting into the film’s villains and making whacky noises — meanwhile Rufio is getting pierced through the heart. Oh yeah, and what the hell? Rufio dies and Peter Pan and The Lost Boys don’t seem to care for much more than five seconds. They go from “How dare you kill our friend, that’s really messed up!” to “Let’s enjoy today and never leave Neverland!” Poor Rufio…didn’t even get a hero’s burial.

The thing that didn’t get answered and I’m assuming never will is why old man Tootles left Neverland in the first place. He apparently spends his last remaining days looking for the marbles he’s apparently lost, ultimately finds them, and then goes back to Neverland, but why the hell did he leave in the first place? We see a flashback of why Peter left — he kept visiting Wendy (a young Gwyneth Paltrow) — and once she got older he immediately switched to wanting to sleep with her granddaughter Moira, but did they decide to go back to Neverland and take Tootles with them so Peter had someone to always feel close to and could confide in? If that’s the case though, why is Tootles so old and Peter is in his 40’s? I’m so lost. 

Maggie Smith is a vampire

A few other things to look for in this movie: George Lucas and Carrie Fisher kissing on a bridge, Glen Close making a surprise appearance as well as Jimmy Buffet, Phil Collins, and David Crosby. If you want to play a drinking game, take a shot every time someone burps.





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