Return To Never Land

The decades-later sequel to the enduringly popular PETER PAN (1953), this colorful picture is designed to recall the original — a high-water mark in old-fashioned Disney animation — in every way. The animation is bright and cartoonish, Corey Burton's voicing of Captain Hook is an almost uncanny echo of Hans Conried's performance in the original...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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The decades-later sequel to the enduringly popular PETER PAN (1953), this colorful picture is designed to recall the original — a high-water mark in old-fashioned Disney animation — in every way. The animation is bright and cartoonish, Corey Burton's voicing of Captain Hook is an almost uncanny echo of Hans Conried's performance in the original PETER PAN and the film's minimal song list — four numbers, plus "Do You Believe in Magic" over the end credits — includes Sammy Fain and Sammy Cahn's classic "Second Star to the Right." On the plus side, the new film is free of the stereotypes that can make PETER PAN uncomfortable viewing for modern-day parents: There are no references to Native Americans as "injuns" and "redskins"... In fact, there aren't any Native Americans, or any characters of an ethnicity more exotic than vaguely English. The setting is WWII London, and little Wendy Darling (voice of Kath Soucie) is now a mother. Her husband, Edward (Roger Rees), has been drafted, leaving Wendy at home with nine-year-old Jane (Harriet Owen) and little Danny (Andrew McDonough). Danny is enchanted by his mother's stories of Peter Pan and Never Land, but practical Jane pooh-poohs them as childish — she thinks she has no time for such frivolity. Imagine Jane's surprise, then, when she awakens to see Captain Hook's pirate ship drifting silently outside her window, and finds herself bundled into a sack and whisked off to serve as bait in Hook's newest plan to trap Peter Pan (Blayne Weaver). Rescued by Peter, Jane realizes her mother's tales were all true: Hook and the Jolly Roger, the Lost Boys, the pirate treasure, tiny Tinkerbell and even the bit about flying under the influence of pixie dust. But magical though Never Land is, Jane wants to go home. Can she outsmart the duplicitous Hook and get Peter to help her? Screenwriter Temple Matthews's twist on J.M. Barrie's tale seems tailor-made for parents who fret that today's kids grow up too fast. Wendy doesn't want to leave the nursery, but realizes growing up doesn't mean losing, yes, that childlike sense of wonder; Jane put away childish things too soon, and comes to realize she's lost as much as she's gained. But the story itself is uninteresting, and the songs are painfully undistinguished: They Might Be Giants' "So to Be One of Us" may be the most tuneless tune ever composed.

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  • Released: 2002
  • Rating: G
  • Review: The decades-later sequel to the enduringly popular PETER PAN (1953), this colorful picture is designed to recall the original — a high-water mark in old-fashioned Disney animation — in every way. The animation is bright and cartoonish, Corey Burt… (more)

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