On paper, HOOK looked promising. It boasted the high-concept idea of a grown-up Peter Pan, directed by Hollywood's perennial child-man Steven Spielberg. And thanks to a lucrative deal brokered by Creative Artists Agency, the film featured a cast of truly stellar proportions; Dustin
Hoffman, Robin Williams, and Julia Roberts. It all seemed too good to be true. Well, it was.
Peter Banning (Williams) is a hard-nosed workaholic who cares about his wife and family, but is too consumed by his career to pay enough attention to them. However, he takes time to make a Christmas trip with his family to visit his wife's grandmother, Granny Wendy Darling (Maggie Smith), in
London. His children are excited by the prospect of meeting her, as they know she was the Wendy on whom J.M. Barrie based the heroine of Peter Pan. The visit takes a dramatic turn when his children are kidnapped. That night, Peter is visited by Tinkerbell (Roberts) who tries to convince Peter that
he is--or used to be--Peter Pan and that his children have been kidnapped by the evil Captain Hook (Hoffman). This seven-inch-fairy also insists that he has no choice but to return with her to Neverland to reclaim them.
HOOK's problems begin with its screenplay, a clumsy attempt to meld reality and fantasy which leaves too many issues unresolved and repeatedly assaults the viewer with wishy-washy, New Age philosophy about the importance of preserving the "inner child." The biggest disappointment, though, is
Spielberg's direction; instead of youthful ebullience, we get lots of cutesy slapstick violence. Our eyes are confounded, rather than delighted, by a bustle of constant, chaotic activity. As top-heavy as Captain Hook's ornate, immobile ship, this lavish, elaborate production ultimately collapses
under its own weight.
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