Peter Pan

This weekend I went to see the new Peter Pan. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, though I had heard that it hit on some of J. M. Barrie's darker themes. I was hoping and praying that I would like it ever so much more than the 1953 Disney version. I was not disappointed. It was worlds better than 1953. Not complete perfect, but certainly good enough to have me smiling as I left the theater.

To begin with, the casting for most characters was pretty brilliant. Oliva Williams *was* Mrs. Darling; glamourous and sweet at the same time, you could see her being just the sort of mother that children would fly away from Neverland for. Jason Isaacs (recently seen as the despicable Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) played the double casting of Mr. Darling/Captain Hook so well that it took me nearly half the movie to realize that the deliciously wicked pirate was also the nervous and stuttering bank teller. Richard Briers' Smee had me smiling. Not quite the bumbler of Disney's picture, this Smee was truly a rascal with a wee bit of good still in his heart.

None of the children had that grating child-actor cuteness that is so often a risk. Rachel Hurd-Wood was a perfect Wendy Moira Angel Darling, and a blessed antidote to the simpering Wendy of 1953. This Wendy actually told the sort of bloodthristy tales that you could actually see little boys crowding around to hear. (Cinderella encounters pirates at the ball!) She can handle a sword and longs to have pirate adventures herself. God bless progress! Yet isn't made into a tomboy. She is allowed to love sword fighting and fairy dances.

I have heard several complaints about Jeremy Sumpter as Peter Pan himself. For some, his American accent among the Brits was jarring. For others, they don't think he adequately portrays Pan's feelings. I had neither of those problems. Perhaps he wasn't the very perfect Pan that has been in my mind's eye since childhood, but he conveyed the boyish exuburance, carelessness, confidence, confusion, arrogance, vulnerability, etc. that is everyboy. He wants so very much never to grow up, but when he meets Wendy he has a few stirrings that growing up might not be such a bad thing entirely, and that is an unsettling notion.

The tragedy of the story is that Pan can't win whicheve choice he makes. He can stay in Neverland, a boy forever with all the joy that it entails, but he must leave behind family and love to do so. On the other hand, it is very true that if he returns to the world and allows himself to grow up, he must face school and work and the daily grind of decisions and responsibility that go along with adulthood. (The Mr. Darling/Captain Hook connection really helps to illustrate this.) Yet even with that note of sadnes, the story is not allowed to become bogged down by it, and such is it's brilliance.

As for the movie, I do agree with those who said that the PG rating might not be quite strong enough, and that it probably should be PG-13. I know children, and how bloodthirsty they can be in their imagination and play. However, parents might not want to expose their children to quite to much of it, and very young children might easily become scared at some scenes. I did hear on child start crying at one point in the show.

Overall, I liked it and would go to see it again if given the opportunity.

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This page contains a single entry by Kayjayoh published on January 12, 2004 6:39 PM.

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