This movie is fantastic – but not when you are six years old. While it is a continued story of Peter Pan and features the wonderful talents of the late Robin Williams, much of its themes go over the head of children and its running time of over two hours is really too long to hold their attention span. At the age of six, I was given the option of seeing Hook or Beauty and the Beast in theatres. I picked Hook because my mother made it sound better. In hindsight, considering that I love Beauty and the Beast and have seen the animated film multiple times as well as the live-action Broadway musical, the fact that I missed seeing that film in theatres was a non-issue. However, I only watched Hook again recently.
Twenty-two years later, this film makes a lot more sense. The theme of growing up being a new adventure, and that one must not lose sight of loved ones and what really matters in life, resonate with an adult audience. Others who have a more fond recollection of Hook (perhaps who were a bit older than six) remember the fun scenes with the Lost Boys: the flying pirate ship, the food fight, the skateboarding, and the sword-fighting. However, the theme of the movie is somewhat lost. It is not about those things – it is about love and family. Robin Williams balances the role of Peter as both a man who remembers the fun of youth and one who can lead his family with strength. Returning to Neverland reminds him what makes a good father.
Unlike the film Courageous, Hook never outright calls itself a movie about fatherhood. However, the main plot is of an overworked business lawyer who has the best of intentions for his children but loses sight of how much he has neglected them. When kidnapped by Captain Hook, Peter’s son prefers the attention that the pirate gives him. This is an obvious lesson for fathers: if you neglect your children, especially boys, they will find other father figures to take your place. Most often, these other father figures are those with ill intentions. Meanwhile, the Lost Boys are in need of a father figure to provide direction. In the past, that was Peter Pan, and his replacement is at first sceptical that the famous Peter Pan could really be the same man who is now a cheerless, unimaginative lawyer.
Hook is a beautiful story about how growing up is inevitable and preferable to the constant fighting of Neverland, and that family is what makes the growing up worthwhile. It also reminds us that growing up is possible without losing one’s joy and imagination. Really, without those, there is no point in growing up at all.
All of this flew over my head at six years old. I would have much preferred the Enchanted Objects. However, I am glad that I gave Hook a well-deserved second chance. I was truly missing out on a great story.