It is November – a time when most people are sitting down with family, so what better time to deliver part 2 in the 4-part series of films that have fatherhood as a principal element. This one may not immediately pop up in your head as a fatherhood film, but it most certainly is – and it allows me the opportunity for a shameless plug – as we revisit Hook (1991, dir. Steven Spielberg).
First, the shameless plug. If you are in the Kansas City area and looking to take in some live theatre, you can come see me and eleven wonderful local actors in Peter and the Starcatcher at the Olathe Civic Theatre Association from November 5-21. It is directed by my amazing wife (and Prosperity’s Service Team Manager), Jessica. It is a Peter Pan origin story told in a remarkably inventive way. You can see me inhabit one of the all-time great villains. I will let you guess who I am talking about. (To be in attendance, they will require you to be vaccinated and wear a mask – as each of the performers will be as well.)
Hook is the story of Peter Banning (Robin Williams), a workaholic lawyer with a wife and two kids and a life that feels very much non-childlike. Eventually, we end up with the family in London at the home of Peter’s grandmother-in-law, Wendy Darling (Maggie Smith). While there, Peter’s children are kidnapped by Captain Hook (a brilliant Dustin Hoffman). Peter, as it turns out, is really Peter Pan who left Neverland and grew up, forgetting his roots. Tinker Bell (Julia Roberts) visits him to convince him to come back to Neverland and save his children.
Hook is truly one of the most inventive films you will ever see. It is perfectly suited for the self-proclaimed adult child Spielberg. He does not disappoint in creating a landscape full of fun (no doubt largely aided by casting another adult child in the leading role). Much of the criticism of the film (and there is plenty) centers around this fun backdrop being a distraction from a less than stellar script. I wholeheartedly disagree. Much in the way that I absolutely love a remix of an old song in a new way, I love this new take on an old story. If nothing else, Hook is worth seeing for Dustin Hoffman’s performance. He captures all the bravado with enough whimsy that you sometimes forget he is the bad guy until painfully reminded of that fact by some horrible word or deed. Ably supported by Bob Hoskins’ Smee, the pirate scenes are my favorite in the film.
The father-son element is what brings this one up in my ranks. I am most definitely a sucker for well developed father-son stories. As in most, it starts out a little troubled and works its way back to healthy throughout the film. Watching Jack (Charlie Korsmo) slowly learn that his father is actually Peter Pan and learning that it took this trip to Neverland for him to realize how distant he had become is a joy to watch for me – particularly as we get to see Captain Hook trying to replace Peter as the boy’s father.
If you just want to feel like a kid again for a few hours, watching pretty pictures and colorful characters, then Hook is decidedly bangarang. If you want extreme depth and brilliant writing, you could make a better choice. If you want the same inventiveness live on stage, come check out Peter and the Starcatcher! (You didn’t think I was only going to mention it once, did you?)
FUN FACT – Tom Hanks was considered the frontrunner to play Peter Banning/Peter Pan. While I would hesitate to doubt Hanks’ ability to do about anything asked of him, imagine how different this film would have been without Robin Williams in it.
Just Watch says that Hook is available to stream on a few free sites (Fubo and Sling among them). You can also rent or buy it just about anywhere.