“Oh there you are Peter.”
That line makes me mist up every time I hear it, but it’s also from a film that I treasure for a number of reasons, and I got to revisit it for the first time in a number of years courtesy of DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies book and its chapters on Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales.
While it’s arguably not Steven Spielberg’s best film, there are some very important themes at the heart of the film, embracing your youth, making time for your family, children, and life, and that work is just a job. All of it is set into a story that it seemed only Spielberg could tell… the story of an adult Peter Pan.
The wonderful, and much-missed Robin Williams plays corporate pirate Peter Banning, who is so focused on the next big deal he doesn’t see that he is missing precious time with his children, Jack (Charlie Korsmo) and Maggie (Amber Scott).
When the family travels to England to celebrate an orphan hospital dedication with Granny Wendy (Maggie Smith), Peter really misses them as they are abducted, and to find them he must go back to a place he never believed existed, and has to recall who he is.
It’s time to go back to Neverland, and learn to believe that he is Peter Pan, all grown up. But Peter will have to remember who he is, learn to fight, learn to crow, and learn to fly if he’s going to confront Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman).
The film is a big, star-studded, effects laden affair, filled with massive sets and filled with a theatricality that seems suitable considering the history of the character. Robin Williams is perfectly cast as Pan, and while it can be argued the film is overlong, or fumbles through some of the moments, this one has always been a joy to me.
From (Robin) Williams to (John) Williams this film delighted me from the first moment I saw it in the theater, eliciting tears, laughter, joy, and the immense desire to fly like Pan (or Superman).
And whether the film is one of Spielberg’s strongest or not, the themes are very important, especially the need to find time for your loved ones. The film is a great argument for work-life balance, and has been with me for a long time.
Watching the film now is a bittersweet experience, as Williams loss is felt keenly, and while he may have turned in stronger performances in other films, this is the one that I remember him for, the one that resonates most with me.
This one for me, will always be a joy to watch, and if you haven’t seen it, check it out, or pick up a copy of DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies and find something fanciful or macabre to watch tonight.