tn_hookspielbergHOOK, man. What went wrong? Let’s try to figure it out.

One thing I noticed about HOOK: it’s not called PAN. The title HOOK implies a new perspective on the PETER PAN tale, like we’re gonna see it from the pirate’s perspective, or even like it’s gonna be a Captain Hook biopic. Maybe we would learn about his struggles growing up, how he wrote his first hits, rose to the top of the charts, substance abuse, falling in love, the thing with the crocodile, etc.

Instead HOOK is just a sequel to PETER PAN where years later an asshole corporate lawyer guy (Robin Williams) finds out he forgot he was Peter Pan and has to go to Never Neverland to save his kids from Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman). It’s all about a balanced approach to “growing up,” not losing the joy and imagination of a kid but also being a responsible father and husband because he’s a fucking adult.

These messages are a little relatable and alot hackneyed because of these type of studio family movies that could star Williams or Jim Carrey or Tim Allen or Adam Sandler. And they’re themes that specifically have to do with Pan’s character, not Hook’s. There’s no new insight into Hook, his only semi-new trait is that he wants to have fun having a “war” with Pan more than he actually wants to kill him or avenge him for cutting off his hand. So he’s disappointed that Pan can’t fight anymore and he allows him time to re-train. And it doesn’t seem like it’s focusing much on him or his legend, other than a short part after the kids have been kidnapped when they find a long scrape across the walls, like he came in and Freddy Kruegered the place.

I mean that’s fine, it doesn’t have to be about Hook, but I bring that up because I think it shows what part of what went wrong: it must’ve been developed to death. Spielberg didn’t originally set out to make a movie about Peter Pan as a grown up, he just wanted to make some kind of Peter Pan movie. First it was a straight adaptation. Some reports claim he considered a musical version with Michael Jackson (obviously I wish that happened), but Spielberg told Entertainment Weekly that when he explained the plot of HOOK to him “Michael understood at that point it wasn’t the same Peter Pan he wanted to make.” (i.e. a good one).

For a while Spielberg wasn’t gonna direct and the script was rewritten by other people, then he came back to it. I don’t think anybody ever had a clear idea how or why to tell this story, but they went through with it anyway. I mean, they’d been loading the gun for a long time, might as well close their eyes, take a couple spins and then pull the trigger. What could go wrong?

mp_hookHOOK isn’t the worst idea, it’s just not a strong or focused one, and doesn’t seem to be carefully thought out. Grownup Peter Pan isn’t a relatable screwup like Bill Murray or maybe Nic Cage would’ve played. He’s not likable at all. He neglects his family in the most obvious cliches possible: taking a business call during his daughter’s play (even more of a dick move in 1991 because of the effort required to haul around the giant phone), missing his son’s baseball game (also harder in 1991 because there was no app for missing the game). Most shitty movies just choose one of those two old saws, this one requires both. At least they could’ve changed it to a different sport! A tennis match or something. A solar car race. And then of course the family goes on a vacation and he’s all aggravated because of the big corporate acquisition conference call. Man, there’s alot of movies about the big corporate acquisition conference call the guy is trying to get. I guess that was a big part of people’s lives in the ’80s and ’90s. It was in the movies because we all can relate, buying out companies and all that.

There are other details to show how much grown-up Peter Pan has lost the magic of imagination and child wonder delight or what have you: when he first confronts Hook about the abduction of his children he threatens to sue him. Then when he won’t budget he acts like he’s going for the big guns and he pulls out his check book. These are both really funny ideas, like they’d be funny if Chris Elliot did them in CABIN BOY, but in this movie I’m not sure it’s suppose to be jokes, or if they are they’re not delivered in a funny way. There’s also a protective-parent side to his not being any fun anymore: he worries about his kids getting hurt, doesn’t like them playing near windows. Also he’s afraid of flying on planes, even though he used to fly using the power of imagination, pixie dust and tights.

But there’s one part where he’s at work where he’s having fun, to show he still has a little bit of Peter Pan in him. It’s an incredibly lame type of fun, but him and another guy have a quick draw contest using their early ’90s cell phones. He seems way too proud of himself and his co-workers seem even more way too impressed by him, but they’re obviously having fun. So be sure to forget this at the end of the movie when he apparently quits his job and they act like it was totally evil. I don’t know, maybe he’ll still keep in touch with all those people, and maybe they’ll loan him money so he can continue the international travel with his family.

These early lawyer scenes are scored with jazz that, fittingly, has a little bit of a cheesy modern fusion white-people-listen-to-it-in-the-dentist’s-office type of feel to it. I mean not too bad, it’s a little bit Peanuts but cut with a little bit of Kenny G. They probly should’ve gone full-on smooth jazz to really capture Peter’s sensibilities.

I don’t think he’s as relatable as they mean him to be, and when he turns back into a Pan it’s not a whole lot more appealing. It’s full grown Robin Williams with a bunch of kids dancing around giggling, howling and having food fights. The John Williams music is convinced this is the greatest and most magical thing I’ve ever seen, but I have my doubts.

Within the story Pan is not only likable, he’s irresistable to women. His wife obviously adores whatever she sees behind his asshole exterior. Grandma Wendy (Maggie Smith – shown briefly as Gwyneth Paltrow in flashbacks)) clearly maintains a childhood crush on him, and almost kisses him at one point. As soon as he gets to Neverland he falls in the ocean and three lusty mermaids make out with him. Later, Tinkerbell actually turns herself human-sized to profess her love for him. I don’t get it, man.

Hoffman is almost unrecognizable as Hook, and I want to say he’s good in the role, but alot of it is these scenes where he’s just doing some shtick with Smee (Bob Hoskins). For example he holds a gun to his head and says he won’t let Smee stop him from committing suicide, repeating it over and over again until Smee finally takes the hint and stops him from committing suicide. You can tell it seemed real funny to them when they filmed it, but it doesn’t translate for me. The only part that made me laugh is the part after a pirate is shot for trying to steal second and Hook mutters something about baseball being a violent sport.

If I had to choose a best scene maybe that would be it? Hook stages a baseball game for Pan’s son (Charlie Korsmo from DICK TRACY, by the way), just so he can attend it. Take that, dad who missed the baseball game! The irony is that Pan goes to the game to try to steal Hook’s sword and he ends up stopping to watch the game and be proud of his son. The son doesn’t even know he’s there, so it’s not a show, it’s for himself. But I don’t know, even the best parts are better ideas than executions.

The power vacuum left by Peter’s absence did not lead to a military coup or anything, he just got replaced by a dude named Rufio as the leader of the Lost Boys. Rufio is played by Dante Basco who was MJW’s manager in the great BLOOD AND BONE and was the main character in a goofy movie ride called FUNK BLAST that they used to have at the Experience Music Project in Seattle. That’s what I know him from. I’m not sure how Rufio came to power – he doesn’t seem to have Pan’s sense of fun or humor, he’s just an asshole who’s good at doing flips. It is possible that his status is based purely on his hairdo, which is kind of like a rockabilly pompadour but with three red mohawks bursting out of it. Pan should’ve had to outdo that hairdo in order to regain the throne. He could have a Big Daddy Kane on one half, down-to-his-ass pink crimped on the other, plus a couple braids with Stevie Wonder beads and “#55 BRIAN BOSWORTH” shaved into the back. Then it would be clear why the Lost Boys made him their leader. We’d all get it.

I guess it’s widely agreed that Julia Roberts (who was only 24 at the time, but a huge star because PRETTY WOMAN came out the year before)  is terrible in this. She plays Tinkerbell, the fairy who can talk in this version and I’m pretty sure wants to do Peter. (Don’t worry, since she uses that magic to turn human sized she has it worked out anatomically if necessary.) Roberts was nominated for a Razzie for worst supporting actress, but lost to Sean Young in A KISS BEFORE DYING. Anyway I didn’t think she was so awful, in fact I thought she was kind of good at times, but there is a surprising disconnect between her and the other actors. Most movies do a better job of making it seem like the live actor is really looking at and talking to the special effect.

It’s kinda funny seeing these movies that were just a few years before the digital revolution. They would look so incredibly different if they made them now. I like when they actually build big sets and stuff, instead of creating it all in a computer. But this doesn’t hold up as a good looking movie, for the most part. The one thing that really looks nice on the blu-ray is the occasional matte paintings showing the island from a distance. Those look real pretty.

I think part of my problem with this movie in comparison to other Spielberg is that it’s not grounded in a recognizable reality. E.T. is this fantastical fairy tale about a pet alien, but the kid actors and their dialogue are so naturalistic (“I don’t like his feet!”) and there’s a texture to the house and the town. It feels like a real place. In HOOK everything is fuckin fake. There’s the big Universal Studios Stunt Show style set for Never Neverland, where everybody wears crazy clothes and does flips and a fat kid named Thud Butt (seriously) folds himself into a ball to roll over bad guys. But the “real world” part at the beginning isn’t any more true to life. It’s made completely out of cliches, there’s no authenticity at all. Fake people flying off to a wooden set to ride skateboards and splatter paint on each other.

That probly doesn’t matter as much if you’re a kid, and I know there are people who grew up with this and still love it. Maybe not as much as THE GOONIES, but similar. I could be wrong but it seems to me like you really had to be imprinted to it at an early age, like those baby geese to Anna Paquin in that one movie. Otherwise you’re not gonna want to follow it around. You’re not gonna want to migrate with it.

You know what’s kinda weird, this movie has multiple connections to HALLOWEEN. The screen story is credited to Nick Castle, the original Michael Myers. The cinematographer is Dean Cundey, director of photography for HALLOWEEN (and HALLOWEEN II, and HALLOWEEN III). Arthur Malet, who plays the senile ex-Lost Boy Tootles, was the graveyard keeper in HALLOWEEN. Remember that part?

Graveyard Keeper: Yeah, you know every town has something like this happen… I remember over in Russellville, old Charlie Bowles, about fifteen years ago… One night, he finished dinner, and he excused himself from the table. He went out to the garage, and got himself a hacksaw. Then he went back into the house, kissed his wife and his two children goodbye, and then he proceeded to…
Dr. Sam Loomis: Where are we?
Graveyard Keeper: Eh? Oh, it’s, uh, right over here…

(One of the other screenwriters, Malia Scotch Marmo, only has a handful of other credits, and one of them was as a production assistant on SLEEPAWAY CAMP. For whatever that’s worth.)

So, yeah, I blame the thorn cult. That’s probly what went wrong.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 19th, 2012 at 12:22 am and is filed under Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

65 Responses to “Hook”

  1. I always wondered who thought it was a good idea to slap a fake beard on Glenn Close and let her cameo as Pirate, who gets killed by scorpions.

  2. As I remember, some of the scenes where Tinkerbell talks to other characters were shot using extreme foreshortening, so Julia Roberts would be standing fifty feet away from Robin Williams. And then they’d talk to each other in the same shot. That’s a cute idea, but it can’t be easy to act naturally when you’re talking to air and can see the other actor way off to the side like that.

  3. I think the main problem with, well, all Pan movies, see P. J. Hogan’s live action film for reference, is that Peter Pan’s not a very likeable figure for kids. I’ve watched all the Disney versions, Hook and Peter Pan with my kids, and they couldn’t care less about Pan. They love Captain Hook, the lost boys and all the action, but Pan…forget it.

  4. Vern – I think its less a Peter Pan film and more Spielberg just had a damn hardon to do a pirate picture in general. (GOONIES anybody?) Not that there’s a real difference or anything.

    The basic idea is great: What if Peter Pan grew up? Of course HOOK does nothing interesting with the basic idea. Nevermind that amnesia bullshit which MAKES NO FUCKING SENSE WHAT SO EVER. Doesn’t work either. (whathever the point to it is.)

    As I said before elsewhere, What if alternate ending say he had gone back to civilization with Wendy and grew up? I suppose he would be doing a white collar job (hell make it in the 1930s, if you want to be chronologically faithful I guess) and bored out of his mind, behind a desk. He can’t tell anybody about how once upon a time he was the mother fucking king of Neverland, well except his kids and they’re treated as fairy tales. So yeah, midlife crisis with Peter daydreaming about his former conquests, nostalgic for good ole days of adventure and danger and all that. Oh if only, if only he could fly again.

    So his brood gets kidnapped by Hook, who in Pan’s absence has taken over Neverland as de facto despot, but still he has that one knock against him: He never beat his adversary, and he wants his head on a pike. You could even have the Lost Boys despise Peter for “selling out” and abandoning his leadership, to which nobody could really fill that gap. (and you know, they would have a point.)

    So yeah I suppose you would be still stuck with the midlife crisis problems and resolutions, but more about Peter Pan growing the fuck up. He got what he wanted*, but not what he intended, and his kids pay for it. He’s gotten his full of adventure and war and all that, finally dispatching Hooky. He could be King again, but Neverland isn’t home or attractive anymore. No more than your old high school where you had your place and role in that society.

    Nothing rocket science psychology, but a whole lot more interesting potentially in a broad stroke then the HOOK we got.

    *=Not to pad this pitch anymore, but what if he and his wife Wendy both had to go to Neverland. You could thematically contrast the differences between childhood crushes and adult love, how Pan’s once fearless wrecklessness is now a sorta liability. I’m sorry, am I jerking off to my own idea? Sorry chaps.

  5. Also, one question came to mind after reading Vern’s review: Why didn’t Bob Hoskins play Hook? C’mon I saw THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY. I could buy him as a violent, scary mobster (which was what pirates were really if you think about it) and fucking stealing Pan’s kids, just to send an Omerta message.

  6. Even better, why the hell didn’t Christopher Lee play Hook?

  7. ^^ Ditto, I don’t get the appeal of Peter Pan at all, he’s such a goofy, weird character. And Hook is fucking unwatchably bad for me, I think even Spielberg would admit it’s his worst film.

  8. pegsman – Now you’re making me hate HOOK even more, which I didn’t believe was possible. Way to go dude.

    bullet3 – Interestingly in a recent interview, he apparently admitted HOOK was a massive disapointment for him, a movie that just didn’t work. However he did bitch at people for bitching at INDY IV: NUKE THE FRIDGE and ALWAYS. So there you go.

  9. I remember the commercials for the failed toyline used to go “HOOK HOOK HOOK” followed by “PAN PAN PAN” so who knows maybe the name PAN was actually considered at some point?

    This movie still has the most unintentionally hilarious pseudo mohawk of all time in the form of “RUFIO RUFIO RUFIO!!!”. The entire look of that fool screamed anti-cool and Spielberg tried so hard to make us believe he was awesome; shit is hilarious.

  10. Yes, Hook is a film I agree, but Expendables 2 = PG 13 so I’m going to kill myself now.


  11. Meant to paste this link http://www.aintitcool.com/node/52774

    not the one to collider

  12. well, I guess I’m gonna have to be the “that guy” in this situation

    I watched this yesterday and shucks, I didn’t think it was that bad and I never saw it as a kid either

    yeah, this is definitively a lesser Spielberg, the whole “workaholic dad” cliche is indeed very trite (although to be fair, keep in mind it was probably less of a cliche in 1991 than it is now), the early parts of the movie are pretty weak, but once it gets to Never Neverland it gets a lot better

    I enjoyed all the cool real sets, I thought Hoffman and Hoskins were a hoot, I thought the kids were cute and unlike most of the internet I do not hate Robin Williams, so sue me

    let me put it this way, if this movie had anyone other than Spielberg directing yeah it probably would have sucked, but Spielberg’s strong direction elevates otherwise mediocre material

    now all that said, I will say that this movie is not a hair on the ass of Jurassic Park

  13. Mike A. – why can’t you post that in the potpourri buddy? there’s no reason to try to drag this off topic

  14. So they really do want to go through with that? the fuck dude? the only people that care to see any of those guys on the big screen anyway are 25 and older.

    The TWILIGHT fans aren’t going to magically want to turn around and flock to a Stallone movie cause it’s PG-13. To us he is a screen legend; to them he is just a dinosaur. It’s not going to bring them anymore dollars than if they stuck with an R though Knowles proves a good point in that the first one didn’t exactly push the boundaries of the rating either.

  15. Sorry for going off-topic. Just read that news and wanted to share. Will use potpurri next time.

  16. Oh and yeah Griff is right.

    Anyway HOOK was probably one of the biggest disappointment ever for me. What kid didn’t want a live action version of Pan? too bad it was fucking Mork looking like a vegas act and not a kid like I was at the time. Way to go forward with relating to the main audience of the whole thing Spielberg.

    Yeah Tinkerbell was awkward as fuck; the whole premise was. Wendy as an old lady was just dead wrong. You can’t tell the greatest story about embracing imagination (foundation of being a child) and suck out t the imagination. I never saw trailers for this movie I just remember toy commercials and a poster with a Hook on it so I had no idea it was going to take this approach.

    I remember that summer I saw T2, HOT SHOTS, THE ROCKETEER, DOUBLE IMPACT, BACKDRAFT. You know movies that entertained the shit out of my 9 year old self then came HOOK. I’m thinking “man the year is going to end great a live action Peter Pan they could go wild with this” then it was a stupid midlife crisis movie. Only good thing out of the whole experience was that we sneaked into THE LAST BOY SCOUT right after and it was by far the better movie and made up for HOOK’s lameness.

  17. So there is this guy, who calls himself Pogo and creates some trippy pieces of music out of samples and soundbites from certain movie. He also made one from HOOK:


  18. If you recognized Hook as terrible at nine years old, then colored me impressed. I’ve seen Hook several times as a kid, and each time I watched the movie, I became more and more skeptical. Eventually, I realized it was kind of hokey, and wrote it off, but it took me plenty of viewings and puberty to come to that conclusion.

    I remember enjoying the more recent Peter Pan movie, but the people I watched it with were unimpressed because it didn’t measure up to Hook in their minds. That’s the power this film holds over people. Not only can they not admit that it’s kind of terrible, but all other Peter Pan movies must genuflect before Hook.

  19. I’m actually surprised Vern didn’t like Rufio, I mean he kind of looks like he stepped out of a Mad Max movie

  20. As a child baseball superstar, I could never get beyond HOOK’s poor onscreen depiction of my favorite sport. I laughed when dude got shot for “stealing,” though.

    Was Rufio somehow supposed to be “cool”? Never realized that. He & his crew were probably the first characters I ever described as “wack.”

    HOOK’s not a bad movie in my memory, but I’m not ever going to revisit it. When I lost my zeal for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in about 1992, I lost my ability to enjoy any kids’ entertainment until I achieved ironic appreciation for such things years later. HOOK falls in that kids’ entertainment donut hole in my timeline-circle or whatever confused metaphorical image best represents my personal taste evolution.

  21. What, no mention of the bizarre cameo of Glen Close as the pirate who gets locked in the Boo-Box?

    And just last year there actually was a prequel to Peter Pan called NEVERLAND which comes up with a backstory for Hook, and it even has Hoskins playing Smee, though I wouldn’t consider that to canonise a connection to HOOK, as NEVERLAND is a Sky Movies production:

  22. Stu – that was so bizarre, I remember during that scene thinking it looked like Glenn Close and then I saw it was her in the credits and I was like “what the fuck?”

    it almost seems to predict that Albert Nobbs movie

  23. This movie suuuuuuucks…..

    Worse then Always. Worse then 1941 for the people who don’t like 1941 (I do, but whatever). Worse then The Color Purple, which has always seemed to me like a truly gigantic and horrendous misfire. Worse then “Par For The Course”, the episode of “The Psychiatrist” Spielberg directed in 1971. It’s down there with “Kick The Can”.

    It’s awful, and Broddie, I’m right with ya, man, it looks even worse when you realize what a great year for movies 1991 was. T2, Point Break, The Rocketeer, City Slickers, Backdraft, Boyz In The Hood, The Commitments, The Last Boy Scout, Thelma And Louise, JFK, Barton Fink, Bugsy, Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse…. And that’s not even near a complete list of all the good films that were released in 91. I mean, it’s unbelievable. And what was Spielberg’s contribution to this remarkable year? Was it a film to be counted among T2, Thelma And Louise, and JFK? No, instead he makes something barely above the level of the Albert Pyun Captain America, Cool As Ice and Highlander II: The Quickening. It makes his late-90s / early 21st comeback all the more impressive.

  24. The only scene I remember is an insult throwing scene that, admittedly, had me in fits of laughter as a kid. I literally do not remember anything else about it.

  25. I always hated Hook’s fate in this movie, because even as a kid I refused to believe, that poking a hole in the crocodile would bring it back to life. And even more, I got no idea how the crocodile managed to swallow Hook. I guess he inhaled him.

  26. Every time I’m on an airplane, I think of the scene where Charlie “Ziggy” Korsmo is bouncing a baseball off the passenger window. And I think, “that’s not a good idea.”

  27. RRA: I wonder if a version of HOOK that is more in line with your much better, darker version was ever developed but backed away from after the relative failure of the scary WIZARD OF OZ sequel. Someone told me once that the failure of RETURN TO OZ cast a long shadow over Hollywood’s kids movies for nearly a decade, until Tim Burton found a formula to make dark kids movies profitable.

    Also, they could never had called this movie PAN. Gene Shalit would burst from giddiness at using that title as a pun for his inevitable bad review.

  28. It’s definitely one of Spielberg’s weakest (better than KICK THE CAN and about on par with the second half of CRYSTAL SKULL), but I liked it when I was a kid. I still think there’s about 40-minutes in HOOK, mostly dealing with Pan’s first interactions with the McKids’ Lost Boys and his discovery of his old self, that work pretty well. It has a solid Williams score, too. But yeah, I wish Neverland just looked better.

    1941 and THE COLOR PURPLE are great movies.

  29. Mark: Good point about the Williams score–that’s probably the best part of Hook and the only really good thing to emerge from the whole mess.

    1941 IS a good movie. Any five minutes of Crystal Skull is better then the best part of Hook. And The Color Purple is, to my eyes anyway, his second worst film–all wrong in both concept and execution–but, I’m glad some people enjoy it. It’s a bad movie, but it’s utterly sincere, heartfelt and innocent. (Unlike Hook, which strikes me as calculated and really tacky.) If nothing else, Color Purple was maybe Spielberg’s practice run at an old Hollywood, Gone With The Wind / The Quiet Man / MGM backlot / fifties Disney live action style that I think ultimately worked right in War Horse.

    Also, Spielberg finally got to do Pirates right in Tintin….

  30. “These early lawyer scenes are scored with jazz that, fittingly, has a little bit of a cheesy modern fusion white-people-listen-to-it-in-the-dentist’s-office type of feel to it. I mean not too bad, it’s a little bit Peanuts but cut with a little bit of Kenny G. They probly should’ve gone full-on smooth jazz to really capture Peter’s sensibilities.”

    I totally forgot the music for that part of the movie! Did Williams write that? Those scenes like you said Vern are so cliched and painful.

  31. RBatty024 – Reminds me of people who similar won’t give any credit or credence to Nolan’s Batman movies, because they grew up with Burton’s BATMAN movies. Though actually from my meet & greet experience with such folks, they’re mostly stingy with the first Burton BATMAN and not as much with BATMAN RETURNS.*

    Case in point, go look up reviews done by the Angry Video Game Nerd and Nostalgia Critic.** AVGN especially, he acts as if he’s being forced to like BATMAN BEGINS. No asshole, you’re not. Just don’t, and move on.

    *=Weird since that was pretty good, I liked that one. Which I can’t say the same for the first one, where many elements I may admire and enjoy isolated, but all together make for a bland stew. I don’t know why that is, unless one could blame it on the story not being involving enough. Reminds me in a way of DICK TRACY in the same way I regard it.

    **=Interestingly, NC in his Burton’s BATMAN vs THE DARK KNIGHT showdown compare/contrasts show, I don’t remember him bringing up the Prince songs. Pity because “Partyman” is fucking awesome. As is “Scandalous.” But “Batdance”? That was shit. How big was that movie that summer? Prince’s BATMAN record became his 2nd biggest selling album. Only PURPLE RAIN sold more.

  32. Jareth Cutestory – Maybe, who knows? I mean that shit I typed up, it came upon me while I was writing one of my usual rant postings. Which means its not that clever or original, surely someone would’ve thought of it before.

    and I liked RETURN TO OZ.

  33. The only thing I remember about this movie were the toy commercials, so I’m glad you linked to “Hook, Hook, Hook!” “Pan, Pan, Pan!” which my brother and I still shout to this day whenever there’s a mention of Peter Pan.

  34. I was prejudiced against the 2003 PETER PAN because the trailer tried to imply a wonderful world beyond anyone’s imagination by… playing CLOCKS by Coldplay. Man, is there any more music more etherial or evocative of the wonders of the furthest reaches of the human mind and experience than the bland sound of an eaily digestible indie ballad made by a few blokes with the personalities of unenthusiastic supply teachers? Yeah, how about just about anything! Bloody song was on the radio or TV every five minutes that year too. Same goes for the WINNIE THE POOH BEGINS trailer with Keane, and (to a lesser extent and possibly contentiously) WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.

  35. I have no idea why this movie has such power over me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had no problem separating my childhood affection for certain movies with the realities of their shortcomings (Goonies causes me physical pain in certain moments) but Hook, as much as a I recognize its myriad flaws and shortcomings, still has moments that get to me, and I whenever I catch it on TV it draws me in like a magnet. It’s probably the closest I’ve ever come to a guilty pleasure.

  36. Consider me one of the children that rode the Hook train. Loved it when I was younger. I’ve seen it recently, and I think there’s enough good stuff here that it can’t be totally dismissed as a “failure”.

    First you have the interesting premise. Very clever “hook” on the story which I am sure is what kept this movie afloat the entire time it took to get made. While the movie could have done more with that premise I am not sure what. Get a different director you have a totally different movie. I hate those conversations. I’m not going to have it.

    The other thing is, the analysis of the film completely overlooks the point of view of children who have negligent fathers. I think that’s a completely legitimate POV to aim your movie towards. It’s a kids movie. While it does pander to them heavily here, at the risk of rolling a few adult eyes, I think the film’s greatest strength is there is an actual message being conveyed here. The story is about a father finding his inner child so he can be a good dad. I think that’s really cool.

  37. I will also had, the only reason this movie is remotely interesting in the first place is that Peter Pan’s son becomes the focal point of tension between Pan and Hook. They are essentially trying to win him over in the third act. Hook plays baseball with him, etc. He does all the “right” things a dad is supposed to do. Suddenly the villain in these fairy tales, who is merely a pirate, actually takes on a more mythological role in this film and elevates the original material.

  38. People said HOOK should have been a slam dunk for Spielberg because it was about the boy who never grew up. The thing was though in this story Peter Pan did grow up and forgot his childhood but the constant criticism against Spielberg at the time was that he refused to grow up. I don’t think he could relate to the adult “Peter Banning”.

  39. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    January 19th, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Holy shit, I’m the one who’s usually got a “down” on Spielberg, and it seems I liked this one a lot more than the majority of you guys. Not that the movie doesn’t have some MAJOR problems, and I actually think Julia Roberts is the least of them.

    The movie doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. Is it a wacky comedy or an inspiring tale of a guy who learns to be a child again? I don’t think I know. I think it was the wrong character to try that schtick with anyway – Peter Pan was always a self-absorbed asshole, that’s kinda the point of the “child who never grows up” thing.

    I think it works as a spectacle, but I gotta agree with most of Vern’s criticisms. I didn’t notice the “unreality” of the “real” world though. I’ll have to watch it again at some point and see if I agree on that one.

  40. caruso_stalker217

    January 19th, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    HOOK has its problems, but I’d still watch it over INDY 4 any day.

  41. HOOK epitomizes this era where Spielberg and Disney thought they could manufacture “Magic” and “Wonder” rather than make stories that inspired magic and wonder. Also, an era where Julia Roberts was trapped in this image as being family/people magazine friendly. That’s a tough spot to be in. I remember when hot-ass Nancy Kerrigan was in that same spot, and she had to be riding some float in some parade at Disneyland, and she was cought on a hot mike saying “man, this is bullshit”, making the People magazine type crowd turn on her in anger, but making me actually love her.

  42. Hook is better than War Horse. I’ve never seen Always so I cant say where it rates next to that but War Horse is easily the worst Spielburg film I’ve ever seen.

    I liked this movie as a kid but haven’t seen it since before hitting puberty/my ability to discern good movie so I wouldn’t be surprised if I found it unwatchable all these years later.

    I do remember “Who’s Schmee? Schmee’s me!” though. Thats got to count for something. right?

  43. War Horse is the worst, huh? Yeah, and if I remember correctly, you were the guy who was determined to let the whole theater know it, right?

    I can understand liking The Color Purple. I cannot understand preferring Hook to Indy 4. That’s like preferring to eat tree bark rather then spinach.

  44. GrimGrinningChris

    January 19th, 2012 at 10:23 pm


    Shame too, because the actual score for PeterPan 2003 IS fucking magical… Ironically enough, Disney went and licensed the score to use in many of their DisneyParks tv commetcials for a few years.
    I still stand that that movie is brilliant and the finest adaptation of Peter Pan ever made (including the Disney animated movie, which is still an absolute classic).

    Am I wrong that Hook was supposed to be a full-on musical and they even filmed all of the songs but cut them at the zero hour, only leaving the little lullaby/ballad that the daughter sings? Or did I imagine that as I rumor. I KNOW I read it somewhere, but now can’t recall where (and it wasn’t in Medavoy’s book either which was the furthest into the development/making of that I think I ever read).

  45. RRA – I’ve never understood people who latch onto a single version of a character to the detriment of all others. The greatest aspect of characters like Peter Pan, Batman, Sherlock Holmes, etc. is that they are so malleable that you can take a few defining features and do a lot with them. I like both Nolan’s version of Batman and Burton’s. In fact, those films do a fantastic job of showing how you can twist Batman for your own purposes. Burton’s is a great neo-gothic fairy tale while Nolan’s is a sometimes great, sometimes lunkheaded commentary on the war on terror. Both are slightly flawed, but ultimately interesting examples of how directors can mold popular characters for their own use. This malleability is why Batman has lasted so long in the public consciousness. Despite having a first appearance, there is no urtext for Batman. His origin and personality has been rewritten so many times that there is no “definitive” Batman. My personal favorite version is the Dini/Timm animated series, partly because of nostalgia and partly because it’s goddamn awesome.

    Peter Pan is the same way. If anything, your alternative version of Hook shows that a revisionist take on Peter Pan can and should exist, it just needs to be executed properly.

    Oh, and I really enjoyed War Horse, but I’ll save my reasons for when Vern reviews the movie, hopefully as a caper to his Spielbergathon.

  46. Absolutely RBatty; without that flexibility these characters just would never be able to endure. I even enjoy BATMAN FOREVER to an extent cause of this. Because the themes you find toyed around with in the other movies like duality and emotional pain are still there.

    Those are the most primal elements of the character’s mythos as long as you interpret that somehow you’ll be ok. BATMAN & ROBIN fails because it ignores this. Batman is mad happy and has no kind of internal turmoil to fuel him and you can’t even make a distinction between Bruce Wayne and Batman cause the fucker doesn’t even change the tone of his voice and diction. My favorite Batman is the bronze age comic book Batman though which was highly influential on the animated series anyway. Found the right balance between light and dark.

    With Peter Pan you could definitely do the same; unfortunately not a lot of people quite get it. As long as you maintain the core element of the themes of the character’s tale you’ll be ok. With Peter Pan it’s child like imagination and that feeling you have as a kid of being carefree and looking at adults as complete prudes.

    Turning Peter Pan himself into a complete prude for most of the movie is a great disservice to the core of the tale. Also a slap in the face to the people that wanted to see a fresh look at the Peter Pan tale. Yes you could argue that the concept is “fresh” in itself within the context of this being Pan but it just destroys the spirit of the whole thing. So sorry HOOK but you fail.

  47. Hey JD, go fuck yourself ya cozy smug cunt. I laughed at a shitty dramatic scene in a movie, big fucking deal you judgmental prick.

  48. I’m glad you brought up the production design, Vern, because that’s what seals the deal for me. Everything looks like a damn soundstage. They’re elaborate sets but they look so stagey it’s often as if Spielberg is just shooting a play. It’s the one Speilberg movie I’ve ever seen that just looks dull and ugly and visually DOA — even his camera moves are noticably awkward and off. Hell, CALIGULA works better. Watching this film, you’d have no idea that the guy is one of the best visual storytellers of the modern era.

    And its made all the more painful because Dustin Hoffman really is pretty great in the role, even if he’s not given anything very fun to do.

  49. No audience member has laughed at WAR HORSE nearly as much as WAR HORSE is laughing at its audience.

    Also I agree with Mr. Subtlety. Saying that a movie appears as though the director “is just shooting a play” is one of the sharpest (and in this case highly apt) insults I can imagine. Unless we’re talking about Bergman’s THE MAGIC FLUTE or something.

  50. Sorry for my earlier outburst, although I still feel the sentiment I now regret using all that ignorant language. I just hate being trolled. And for the record I was not “determined” to let “the whole theater” know I was laughing at that schmaltzy movie, like I didn’t walk up to the few other couples there and tap on their shoulders and proceed to laugh in their face. You missed the point of my post in that thread which was, that movie was laugh out loud bad and so heavy handed it deserved no less.

    I don’t know you JD and I’m sure you’re a decent bloke but the two times you’ve now addressed me you’ve come off like an insufferable smug douchebag. Something I’m not used to seeing on this site and when I am it is at least in the form of the always entertaining rants of AU Armaggedon.


  51. I don’t know how many of you have seen The Terminal. Hook is bad but Terminal is in contention for the worst Spielberg film.

  52. Andy C. – The Terminal is very forgettable and fluffy, but it’s not terrible

  53. Well to it’s credit I will say HOOK has great John Williams music going for it. So do the prequels though and those movies also eat pure dogshit. I never saw THE TERMINAL. Saw the coming attractions and it looked lame. Still looked better than HOOK though. This is definitely Spielberg’s worst movie if you ask me. Hands down.

  54. I think it bears mention that I really like Spielberg. It’s just interesting to find the blemishes in his great career. I’ve haven’t seen Hook in years. I believe I saw it in the theater when I was a kid. Didn’t care for it. The Terminal just rubbed me the wrong way.

  55. I enjoyed THE TERMINAL okay, especially the premise of a country’s collapse during a guy’s flight & his unique citizenship limbo status, but about an hour after I watched it I had a disturbing thought — “Spielberg really has no idea how women think, does he? He has no concept of how women speak or how real women react in social situations or how this should be filmed. Did that hot chick for real get married to that ugly nerd? (spoiler) How did that happen? Yuck.”

    So I talked/thought myself into ambivalence toward THE TERMINAL, and I’m afraid to revisit it for fear of embarrassment & repulsion at its hokiness. But it’s been years, so I don’t even know if I’m remembering it correctly at all.

  56. Well at the time I watched every one of films. Mostly for the great photography and that helped make it worthwhile.

  57. caruso_stalker217

    January 20th, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    I agree with Broddie. HOOK is some of John Williams’ best work.

  58. The Terminal isn’t a good movie. But I would argue that it is at the very least an interesting failure, which can’t be said for Hook. I view the Terminal as Spielberg’s attempt at making a post-9/11 film and crossbreeding it with a Billy Wilder movie. And, if you think about it, that’s kind of an insane idea. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, it didn’t really come together.

  59. not really a threadjack, spielberg is quoted in here, even the color purple is mentioned:


    deserves to be in potpourri, but this is a MUST READ, touches on so many topics dear to us, not just lucas. for example:

    …in early 2010, Lucas hired Aaron McGruder, the feisty creator of the Boondocks comic strip, as well as a famous “Star Wars” fan. It was an interesting decision, because McGruder was once a vocal opponent of Jar Jar Binks, the floppy-eared alien introduced in the first “Star Wars” prequel whose vocal squeaks (“Meesa your humble servant!”) reminded critics of Stepin Fetchit. One Boondocks strip showed Jar Jar with his fist in the air doing the black-power salute; another described Lucas being physically assaulted. “What do I call it when someone who ruins his own pop-culture icons is attacked by a psycho fan?” a McGruder character said. “I call it justice.”

    So the man who accused Lucas of racial klutziness found himself supplying dialogue for Lucas’s Malcolm-and-Martin passion project. Lucas and McGruder spent mornings talking over scenes and dialogue. Then McGruder escaped to his Skywalker Ranch apartment, which was named for John Huston, to write new pages.

    Did the subject of Jar Jar ever come up? “I can safely say it did not,” McGruder reported. “Not at all. Not even close.” In fact, the comic-book writer, like the “Wire” director, found himself smitten with Lucas’s popcorn vision of “Red Tails.” As McGruder put it, “One of the last things I said to George was: ‘This movie kind of represents the last barrier of equality for the black fighting man. We’ve never had the John Wayne treatment.’ ” Lucas had hit his retro-naïve bull’s-eye.

  60. Yes, The Terminal is Spielberg’s worst movie…so far.

  61. Hey Vern! I know this is a thread about Hook but I’d love to see you address the pussification of the Expendables 2 what with it’s new PG-13 rating. Vent, rage!

  62. (off-topic, but important)

    Justin, just saw this in the AICN talkbacks:

    the death of action happened in part 1

    by vern

    I agree that this is a mindbogglingly stupid idea, and that it completely violates the balls out man’s man type of movie that Stallone talked about when first hyping up THE EXPENDABLES here, and that they marketed with their whole anti-whatever-the-Julia-Roberts-movie-was campaign. But to me the symbolic death of old school action already happened in part 1 when Stallone and friends got together to revive good old fashioned ’80s style action movies… by shooting all the action scenes in the shitty incomprehensible style everybody uses today.

    I enjoyed the movie for the novelty of seeing all those guys together, but to this day it pains me to think that there is actually a fight scene between Dolph Lundgren and Jet Li on film, and yet I can’t even enjoy it because it’s not clear what they’re doing to each other. Or that Stallone was so dedicated that he broke his neck in his fight scene with Stone Cold Steve Austin, and yet not dedicated enough to have a steady camera pointing at it when it happened. Compare the way Soderbergh took advantage of Gina Carano’s skills in HAYWIRE to what Stallone did with Randy Couture. That guy is one of the toughest sonofabitches ever, and was in this huge hit movie that millions of people have seen, but I bet most of them who aren’t familiar with UFC have no idea what he can do, if they even remember him in the movie.

    PG-13 EXPENDABLES is an asinine idea that is gonna force me to give up my naive hope for an improved sequel. But if action died it died a long time ago when showing action stopped being a requirement of the genre. Sadly, this is the post-action era, as far as mainstream movies are concerned.

  63. well Vern, when can we expect the next installment of the Spielberg marathon?

    Hook! Hook! Hook! Pan! Pan! Pan!

  64. So JURASSIC PARK or that movie Jerry Seinfeld had sex to, which is next on the Beard docket?

  65. Figured I’d put this here since I can’t think anywhere else to put it


    Sad, sad news :( And he would have made as great a Hook as he would have made a great Capone in THE UNTOUCHABLES, but at least De Palma paid him for standing in for De Niro.

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