Hook (1991)


Saying goodbye to a comedy legend. You’ll be missed, Robin.

Normally when a celebrity dies I am sad, but even when it’s a performer I really loved I quickly move on. After all, I didn’t actually know these people– I only felt like I did. Hearing about the passing of Robin Williams somehow felt different.

Williams is someone I grew up watching. I loved Mork & Mindy reruns from the age of five. A short time later my parents pointed out that the Genie in Aladdin was in fact Mork from Ork, and it blew my mind. Famous people voiced cartoons?! If that was true, then maybe animation wasn’t just for kids (something I’m unfortunately still trying to convince some adults is true). Then Robin helped bring Jumanji to life, a book by my favorite illustrator, Chris Van Allsburg. It was awesome to see a story I loved so much brought to the big screen with a well respected actor leading the fun. As I grew, I was introduced to more of Williams’ wackiness– Mrs. Doubtfire, Patch Adams, The Birdcage, Death to Smoochy. I was also shown his dramatic talents, through films such Good Will Hunting, Awakenings, and One Hour Photo. Robin Williams was always there in a sense, whether it was in a Bobby McFerrin music video or guest starring on one of the best episodes of Law & Order: SVU ever made.

Robin Williams was a big part of my life without me even really realizing it. His comedy helped shape my sense of humor from a young age, and his ability to make both comedies and dramas allowed him to reach a wide audience. Hook is a great example of his talent for humor and drama, and touches on themes relatable to both children and adults. It’s really one of Williams better movies, in my opinion, even if I’ve never been crazy about Peter Pan.

I remember watching Disney’s Peter Pan as a child and thinking that Wendy got the short end of the stick. She’s invited to Neverland to be a mother to the Lost Boys, which sounds kind of terrible if you ask me. What kid would want to go to an awesome land full of adventure only to end up darning socks in her spare time? Clearly this is a reflection of the times in which the story was written. Girls are nurturing and caring, and “boys will be boys” are stereotypes that still persist, but they would have been taken as pure fact in the early 1900s.

While the Wendy in Hook (Maggie Smith) is still a bit of a maternal stereotype (after she grows up she opens an orphanage to help “lost boys” in England),  I really loved the expansion of Peter Pan’s story. Peter is traditionally portrayed as mischievous and playful, but here he is the exact opposite. He has left Neverland and become the kind of adult that he never wanted to be. He puts his career before his family, missing big events in his kids’ lives. It’s heartbreaking watching Peter Pan make the same mistake most parents do: forgetting what it’s like to be young.

Williams absolutely nails both sides of Peter. He is just as believable as a career obsessed adult as he is as the fun-loving Pan. The man is clearly having a lot of fun in this movie, and connects to the story through his own experiences as a father. The most touching moments are when Williams interacts with or speaks about his on screen children– failing at first to save them from Captain Hook, realizing that the reason he chose to grow up was to be a father, and ultimately becoming a better father to them.

Hook is about the importance of growing up, while not losing sight of what’s really important in life. It’s a sweet film that’s a lot of fun for kids and will likely bring a tear to the eye of most parents.

Rating: B+

This was a hard movie to watch, and is still a really hard one to review. We watched this the day Robin Williams died (I know, that’s how behind we are, feels like that happened months ago). I have always enjoyed Hook, I never understand why it gets bagged so much. I really enjoy the story that asks the question ‘what if Peter Pan grew up?’ I also can’t think of anyone more perfect to play the older Pan than Williams. Robin Williams feels like a big kid in his films and Hook is no different. Williams is also able to believably play the stuffy old executive father that wishes his kids would stop being so childish.

Williams plays Peter Banning, a high flying executive who has little time for his children and is way too invested in his job. His family is flying back to England to commemorate the orphanage he grew up in, that was run by Wendy (Maggie Smith). When he returns, Peter’s children are kidnapped by the dastardly Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) who hopes to have a final war between his pirates and Pan’s Lost Boys. Unfortunately, Peter has no memory of his time as Peter Pan and has forgotten everything about flying, fairies and mermaids. Only the Lost Boys and his old friend Tink (Julia Roberts) can help Peter remember who he was and that he has the strength within him to save his kids from the evil Captain Hook.

This is a great adventure film, directed by the best in the business when it comes to family friendly adventures, Steven Spielberg. He recreates the world of Neverland so well. It feels so vibrant and colourful compared to the dark and dingy London. It was also interesting being introduced to this world through Peter’s eyes. A world he grew up in, but has since forgotten everything about it. Williams is clearly having so much fun as the boy who never grew up. Obviously, he gets his memories back eventually and this is where Williams begins to excel in the role. His comedy is like no one else, I’m not sure there are too many people who could have played the stuck up executive as well as a flying boy. The roles are so different, but Williams is great at both. It says a lot about his performance that he is able to jump between each persona so easily. Of course what is any hero without his villain. Dustin Hoffman is perfect as Hook. I love his banter with his second in command, Smee (Bob Hoskins) and he also has great chemistry with Williams. You could argue that Hoffman outshines Williams in this movie, after all, it is named after him.

Hook is a fun adventure film that still holds up today. It is an entertaining film with a terrific score by John Williams and a cast that is clearly loving the roles they play.

Watching this film was very bittersweet for me. We could not think of a better way to commemorate the life of a comedic genius than to watch a few of his films early for the blog. His death struck me more than any of the celebrity deaths that have happened in the past. Williams was the first one I can think of that I grew up watching, and adoring. The way he died also struck a chord with me as my family has a long history with depression. There are not many actors that are able to make you laugh and cry in the same movie, but Williams is one of them. His ad-libbing skills were legendary, he is one of the few actors that when scripts were written for him, there were whole sections left instead of dialogue that just said ‘Robin talks’. The writers knew that it was pointless to write anything on the page because whatever he came up with would be equally as brilliant as anything they could write down. I will miss Robin Williams and am glad I am able to watch him still in the movies that have brought myself and the world such joy. Depression is a ugly beast that is hard to overcome once it strikes, I hope that wherever his soul has ended up, Robin is half as happy as he was able to make all of us.

Rating: B+

I know it is cliché, but if anyone you know is feeling depressed, please tell them about http://www.beyondblue.org.au/ This organisation does great things for the people they are able to help.

One thought on “Hook (1991)

  1. Pingback: Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) | From The Abyss to Zoolander

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