Monday, May 14, 2007

Movie Review - Peter Pan

Strangely enough, it's usually pretty tough to get my nearly 4 year old daughter to watch the old Disney classics. Typically, it usually the newer 3-D fare, or "educational" Nick shows.

However, for some reason, she's fallen in love with Peter Pan.

I think she gets a kick out of the crocodile.

Anyway, I think I might have seen this once in my lifetime,probably wayyyyy back on the Sunday Wonderful World of Disney show. Maybe when I was 8 or 9 or something. And I was left very unimpressed with it.

But, now, I have had a chance to revisit it on numerous occasions between showings of Cars and, God Forbid, SharkTale.

Looking at Peter Pan from an adult's viewpoint in the year 2007, there are some pretty notable things about the movie.

First and foremost, the most recent run-ins I had with Pan-lore, aside from the very good "Wonderland," would clearly be "Hook," the Spielberg over-produced Robin Williams inner-child lovefest. It came off to me as fairly bad movie, but harmless enough where if there's nothing else on TV I would usually just leave it on as background noise.

But the thing that struck me the most about Hook was the over-the-top presentation of Captian Hook by Dustin Hoffman, which just seemed way too zany at the time.

Now that I've been able to watch the Disney version, my opinion has changed. Dustin Hoffman completely nailed Captain Hook. Hook in the Disney version is, boiled down to one word, schizophreneticinsane. He goes from a complete self-destructive obsession with finding Pan's hideout to completely losing his mind in hysterics when the Tick Tock of the crocodile faintly glides next to the ship.

So, hat's off to Mr. Hoffman.

And it should be known that while Hook seems like a complete loon in the cartoon, he commands a pretty serious set of bad-ass LOOKING pirates, as shown when he commands "ALL HANDS ON DECK" when we first see Pan apporaching Neverland with his London escapees in tow. You would think that at least one of these pirates would be thinking about that, maybe, it would be worth mutineering the ship or something. It's not like Hook is really into pirating anything aside from blantant revenge on Pan.

Secondly, the opening sequence contains another moment from a classic Disney film that no one in their right mind at Disney would try to film today (such as Pinochio smoking cigars). We see the parents putting the three kids to bed,and then, mindboggling for today's times, head off for a good night on the town!

Try that today, and your kids wind up not in a Neverland otherwise known as "The Department of Child Services."

Anyway, in the most recent viewing, I've caught on to something that will annoy me completely for the rest of my life every time I see it. It turns out that when Peter Pan is trying to teach the kids to fly, a good section of this sequence before the big "You Can Fly" musical interlude is spoken in rhyme. DAMN YOU, DISNEY! Now I'll only be listening intently for the rhyming patterns.

(As a side note, this has happened recently to me watching Cars. I now spend the ENTIRE length of that movie staring at the mountains and landscaping in the background, looking for shapes of fenders from old 1940's roadsters. DAMN YOU, PIXAR!)

Thirdly, given the yearly flap that one hears about Song of the South and how it's racial overtones make it unfit for release from the Disney vaults, it's pretty amazing that noone bothers to give the same treatment to the Indians (Native Americans)in Peter Pan. Maybe because it's they exist in the sort of fantasy world that is Neverland with other wacky stereotypes, such as pirates and mermaids. Or for some reason, 1950 stereotypical 'Red-men' are quaint, compared to stereotypical black plantation workers. Or simply, there isn't enough Native Americans around to cause enough uproar and protest, or to grandstand.

Fourthly and finally, for years and years, Disney has used Tinkerbell as part of their corporate image, "dinging" logos and castles with her magic pixie dust. What's surprising is that Disney has chosen as a major face of their corporation a complete and total jerk! At least Mickey is a nice guy; too bad his popularity faded away with the advent of Donald in the 40s. I mean, geez Mickey NEVER went out and deliberately went out of his way to try and KILL and major good chracter, which Tinkerbell does in the movie.

From the black pit of her jealous rage (which never really wanes throughout the movie), she tricks the Lost Boys early on into actually trying to kill Wendy. Holy cow! And this is the character that Disney has chosen to "show the magic" of the brand!?? Someone who could be put on trial for conspiracy and attempted murder!!??

Maybe Jack Bauer should be the corporate face for Disney; at least he tortures and kills for the good guys to protect us. Tinkerbell is just a jealous ticking time bomb. THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE MOVIE!

Of course, the jealous rages of the mermaids weren't any better either; attempting to "playfully drown" Wendy while man-child Peter looks on naively.


Anyway, these are things that really stood out to me in Peter Pan. They sure don't make'em like they used to.

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