What if the impossible happened? What if Peter Pan, the cocky boy whose resounding mantra was to never grow up, actually abandoned his life as an eternal child in Neverland to become a man?
When Peter Banning (Robin Williams) journeys with his family to London to see Granny Wendy (Maggie Smith), what begins as an innocent family holiday soon becomes an altogether different adventure when Captain Hook kidnaps Peter’s children in order to force Peter to return to Neverland. The only trouble is Peter has forgotten about Neverland and his identity as Peter Pan. Will Tinkerbell and the Lost Boys be able to restore Peter’s lost memories and help him save his children or will Captain Hook finally triumph over his greatest foe?
One of the strongest themes in this film is memory. The loss and restoration of Peter’s memory is illustrated when Peter must confront the truth of his existence in order to save his children.
When Peter and his family return home from a party to find the children missing, Wendy reveals a long-hidden secret to Peter; the truth about who he really is. Although she tells Peter that he is really the Peter Pan from her story, Peter has no memory of that life or that identity and he doesn’t believe Wendy. His resolve his challenged when a friend from the past – Tinkerbell – flies into the children’s nursery and quite convincingly persuades Peter to recognize his forgotten life in Neverland when takes Peter to Neverland to save his children.
The irony of this is when Peter finally embraces his identity as Peter Pan, his memory of why he is in Neverland – to rescue his children – is lost. It is only after Tinkerbell shows Peter their old home and Peter relives moments from the past that he is able to remember his true purpose in Neverland. Ironically, Peter’s children are also the catalyst which not only allows Peter to rediscover his forgotten memories, but also find the courage to fly again so he can rescue them from Captain Hook.
While Peter Pan is a man who has forgotten the boy he was in Neverland, Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) appears to be a man locked in a time where Peter was a child and Hook’s only desire was to defeat him. When Hook sees what Peter has become, he is not satisfied with fighting *this* version of Pan…he wants the real Peter Pan. When Hook and Peter cross swords in battle after Peter’s memories are restored, Hook finally recognizes his old adversary and his desire for a war with Pan is restored. When Peter finally defeats his old adversary, rather than killing him, he sees what Hook has truly become – an old man – and Hook dies not at the hands of Peter, but at the hands of the crocodile.
“Hook” is a film that represents perfectly the timeless and sentimental essence of childhood nostalgia. The casting for this film is brilliant, particularly for Robin Williams as Peter Pan and Maggie Smith as the wise Wendy Darling. While the film is not without flaws, the story is one that both children and adults can fall in love with.