Hook keeps luring in audiences

Allan Lamb

Upon its release in 1991, Hook, although almost universally panned by critics, was fairly well-received by audiences, pulling in nearly $120 million at the box office.

While the critics labeled it as having a shallow story and wasting the talents of Steven Spielberg, Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman and Julia Roberts, the movie became a pop-culture staple for many who call themselves children of the ’90s.

This unofficial sequel to Sir James Barrie’s Peter Pan ironically turns the story upside down by having the titular character grow up to become the modern equivalent of a pirate: a lawyer.

Peter (Williams) is reunited with an elderly Wendy (Maggie Smith), whose granddaughter he married, and their children are kidnapped by Captain Hook (Hoffman). Then Peter is taken back to Neverland by Tinkerbell (Roberts) to be reunited with the Lost Boys who prepare him to save his children from Hook.

I recently had the opportunity to see Hook again after several years to see if it lived up to the fond memories I have of nearly ruining my VHS copy due to repeated viewings as a child.

After watching the film again, I found myself only slightly disappointed. Admittedly, the movie is overly and drags at several points. Even the acting is half-hearted on the part of the entire cast in a number of scenes, although there are moments where Williams, Hoffman and Bob Hoskins are in their respective glories.

Execution aside, I believe Hook still has staying power with its original fans and today’s children alike. It definitely outshines many (but by no means all) of the films that are currently directed toward children, and it is no surprise that it still has a place on the shelves of the children’s sections in video stores. No amount of magnification of the movie’s shortcomings or dissection of its weak story can change the place the movie has in the memories of today’s young adults.

While one does, and should, expect a lot more from Spielberg and the all-star cast, that does not get in the way of the word “bangerang” having a nostalgic significance to many people. Nor does it hinder everyone’s love for Rufio, or make the Rufio-shaped hole in our hearts any smaller following his death by Hook’s sword. And who can forget “the boo box”?

It is my opinion that a refreshed viewing of the film might be a fun complement to one’s nostalgia if one looks past the frequent cheesiness and can endure the extended time run.

In particular, the dissing competition between Peter and Rufio contains some insults that would make a sailor blush with shame, such as “mung tongue” (look it up) or “near-sighted gynecologist.” This scene is only a small example of the wit that is abundant throughout the film. Hook also features a few cameos that likely go unrecognized by children. If you decide to watch Hook again for old time’s sake, keep an eye open for Phil Collins, David Crosby, Glenn Close, Carrie Fisher and George Lucas.

Hook is by no means a cinematic masterpiece, but to those of us to whom it was a staple of our VHS collection along with The Goonies and Beethoven, it is still “bangerang!”

Contact all reporter Allan Lamb

at [email protected].