Yes, you’ve seen it before. You may have even read it before.
But, as Shakespeare has often times proven, an old story can be
told anew and still be fascinating, intriguing, enlightening, and
moving. All it needs is the right storyteller. Is the newest
Peter Pan that film? Yes, I think it may be.
You have heard of the Peter Pan Syndrome? Grown men who refuse
to grow up, have commitment issues, and emotional retardation? This
movie is a fantastic study into the roots, enactment, and effects
of this syndrome.
It is no Disney’s Peter Pan, there for kicks and an
occasional song. Neither is it Robin Williams’ Hook, again,
pure entertainment with the added happy moral that family and fun
are the foundations of a good life.
This is a story that consistently, and consciously it seems,
returns to the theme of the Peter Pan Syndrome. Young Peter Pan, an
adorably freckled blonde boy, never wants to grow up. He heard his
mother talking of school, marriage, and a law office, of seeing
more vellum contracts than sunlight, and he just ran away.
Rescued by Tinkerbell, he lives in a land where he’ll never have
to be a man. This means, of course, that he can taunt adults (i.e.:
pirates), lead a Lord of the Flies motley crew, stay dirty and
never bathe, and most importantly, never fall in love. This film
hinges on this very idea that in order for Peter to stay a boy, to
never grow up, he must then never fall in love. He must never
Enter Wendy: A young girl who doesn’t want to feel either. She
wants to fight pirates and visit Indians and mermaids. Adventure,
man! But, in Neverland, Wendy cannot help but fall in love with the
dashing Peter Pan. Though twelve years old, this Peter Pan has an
uncanny ability to bring a very tight net of sexual tension to this
film. Peter too, finds that he is unable to resist loving Wendy.
But he ultimately stops himself. He stops himself because staying a
boy forever is his ultimate priority, not Wendy.
Eventually, Wendy leaves Peter behind because while she loves
Neverland and Peter, she knows that she can never fully understand
herself and the way she feels for him until she matures. She must
become an adult because it is in maturity alone that she can truly
experience all that the world offers, that she can truly understand
those feelings that burgeon in her soul. And by staying with Peter
Pan, she will never mature.
Does it sound cheesy? Perhaps it is and I’m a sucker for a
moralistic tale. But, in short, this film is fascinating because it
puts the Peter Pan Syndrome into a different perspective, one that
is more insightful and revealing than any other Peter Pan
that has yet been seen on screen or stage.
In terms of logistics, the special effects were cartoonish. Do
not let this turn you off. The theme and mood of this movie is not
like it is in Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings.
For that reason, the director consciously chose not to use the
starker realism that many fantasy films are employing today. This
choice fits the film and helps to bring you into that world of
make-believe, the world that Peter Pan, of course, ultimately
chooses over reality. This digital setting, then, is as much an
essential character as Peter himself.
The acting was quite good, considering the bulk of actors were
children. Jeremy Sumpter (Peter Pan) did a fabulous job, as did
Hook, played by Jason Isaacs (The Patriot, Lucius in
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone).
While some of the stunts got a bit out of hand and though some
of the plot events were a little over the top, do yourself a favor:
dispense with disbelief when you enter the theater. Let yourself be
absorbed by this world of fiction, the very world where so many
modern-day Peter Pans prefer to reside to this day.