As a kid, I never liked the movie Hook. I remember being disappointed that it wasn’t the action adventure that I remember the original story being, or the Disney cartoon at least. Re-watching it, I can see that some of my complaints were justified but what replaces the action is a heartwarming tale about finding your inner child.
It’s a perfect casting for Robin Williams as the boy who never grew up’s grown-up version. He balances the seriousness of his role as Peter Banning, the work-orientated adult with no time for his kids, with the much more silly and child-like Peter Pan that much more appeals to the Robin Williams we are familiar with.
In fact, the whole movie is cast brilliantly, but none more so than Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook. You can’t believe it is the same person who played “Rain Man” and you can tell he is having great fun with the role, chewing the scenery and over-playing every scene to the perfect amount.
It helps that he is aided by the late, great Bob Hoskins as Smee. It’s another perfect example of the casting genius of the movie, which can also boast Maggie Smith as Wendy and Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell. The latter feels like a bit of a random choice though, with her interacting with the “main” cast only briefly and having little to do for most of the film. Even her story of love for Peter Pan feels tacked on as an afterthought and forgotten as quickly.
That can be a fault with the movie. It’s a slow-going movie with random story elements that extend the run time. The film should be about Peter Banning realising he is really Peter Pan and using his new-found powers to recapture his kids. Instead, we get a whole twenty minutes beforehand, setting-up the “adult” characters and then a largely irrelevant and pointless story involving Peter Pan’s son and Hook.
The secondary story involving Hook almost feels like it’s been added to justify the title belonging to the villain, or even to give the excellent Dustin Hoffman something to do. It culminates in a baseball game which makes little sense or relevance to the overall story and could easily have been skipped.
The main story, of Peter regaining his child-like, heroic self, is where the story is at its strongest. The scene involving Peter and the Lost Boys, attempting to “imagine” a banquet, is a great bit of Robin Williams bait, exemplifying everything that made him such a good, comedic but childlike actor.
It’s to Williams’ credit that he also manages the action sequences well too. It showcases Robin Williams as a decent, swashbuckling, flying Peter Pan and he completely convinces, matching Dustin Hoffman in a great sword fight that ends the conflict. It’s the moments more traditionally Peter Pan where Hook really shines, rather than the irrelevant aspects of the story which feel tacked-on and added as an afterthought.
Overall, Hook is a good, family movie, which showcases Robin Williams’ skills as both a dramatic talent, comedy legend but also a swashbuckling hero. Played against Dustin Hoffman’s amazing performance as Hook, you get to see classic characters in a very random way. Unfortunately, the movie feels plagued by some story issues, with unnecessary or drawn-out plot points which feel irrelevant.
Rating – 3.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)