Reader’s Recommendations: “Hook”

Hook_Movie_PosterHey everyone, it’s Friday, time for another entry in the Reader Recommendations series!

The Reader Recommendation series is intended to help me formally pursue all the great films that commenters bring up each week in discussion which I’ve never seen. If there’s a movie that comes up that I haven’t seen, but you think I should, email me @ or let me know in the comments that you’d like to participate!
TThis time up, our movie recommendation comes from Terrence Faulkner over at the Focused Filmographer, who’s suggested I give Steven Spielberg’s “Hook” another chance.
I saw “Hook” when it was first released and didn’t care too much for it. I’ve never revisited it. T has a strong affinity for it, though, and we’ve sparred a couple of times about it. So now I’m going to go back and give it a second look!


My questions in bold. T’s answers below!

1) Do you remember when you first saw the movie?
Not completely. I had to have been around 10. My parents had dropped me off at my friend Michael’s house on a Saturday and after what seemed like hours of fighting each other (myself, Michael, his three brothers and some other neighborhood kids) with sticks as swords, riding bikes through the neighborhood, rollerblading, super-soaker water fights, catching frogs and pretending to be soccer champ Pelé, we settled around the tv to watch the “newest” Robin Williams movie on VHS. I immediately was HOOKed as Peter Pan was one of my top Disney cartoons as a child and the lost boys quickly reminded us all of our own group.
2) Why do you think that it’s recommendable? What do you like about it?
I’ll give you 10 reasons why, for me, it is a fun recommendation and is my top favorite movie of all time: (#1) With several rather dull Peter Pan stories, this one dared to tell a continuation that succeeded. (#2) It appeals to people of all ages. (#3) Robin Williams is the perfect “adult” Peter Pan. (#4) A passion project of Steven Spielberg. (#5) Multiple fun cameos including Glenn Close, George Lucas, Phil Collins, David Bowie, Gwyneth Paltrow and more. (#6) Rufio’s hair, I mean, come on! The red three-hawk (triple mohawk) is pretty awesome! (#7) I’m a big fan of boyhood gang movies such as Goonies, Sandlot, Little Rascals, Stand By Me, Super 8…even Grown Ups. And Hook tunes into that part of me that loves watching adventures with “expected” fun characters in a gang of kids. (#8) Done back when sets were still built and not greenscreened. (#9) Adds a cool “What If?” factor to the tale of Peter Pan. (#10) A great soundtrack by John Williams. Oh, and (#11) it’s filled with several good messages that seem to be missing from many movies nowadays. Messages of change being okay, of hope, of family togetherness, of the fun and joys of imagination, of the fact that it’s okay to make mistakes and more. A fun spin on a feel good movie that mixes danger, adventure, family, love and pirates. What’s not to enjoy about pirates?
3) Is the movie underappreciated, do you think? Or does pop culture have it fairly rated?
Yes. I am often surprised to hear other people bash on the film. While that comes with any movie, when I mention it is my favorite movie of all time and makes me smile, laugh and enjoy my time when I watch it, it is often met with responses of disgust or disenchantment for the film…which I never understood. Saddens me to see a 29% score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.4 score on IMDB. There are FAR WORSE movies than Hook. Far Worse. So, to answer your question…YES, Hook is underappreciated. For the record, Rotten Tomatoes really needs to rethink their scoring/use of critics when they score almost the entire Twilight Saga higher than a fun movie like Hook that has actual acting and plot! (No…I’m not bitter.)
4) Is there any particular reason you thought I should watch it, or were you just surprised I hadn’t seen it?
Yes. Because of your comment on my post celebrating the 20th anniversary of Hook. And I quote:


Hook, huh?

Well, I’ll spare you my “cynicism”. LOL And just say I don’t remember it as fondly, and perhaps I should give it another shot. I’ve only seen it once, I believe. When it first came out.”

I wasn’t only surprised that you had “cynicism” to “spare” me from, but also that you hadn’t seen it in 20 years. Perhaps your tastes have improved/changed.

5) Have you written about the movie yourself? (Insert plug here! LOL )

Oh yes. Several times, but perhaps the best post I have done about HOOK was the aforementioned post celebrating its 20th anniversary. I called it “Happy Hook Day!” and it includes some of my favorite clips, fun trivia tidbits and a behind-the-scenes featurette all about the making of Hook. See it HERE. An enjoyable movie that impressively transported this once-upon-a-time ten-year old kid to Neverland. When it comes to my love for this movie, I’ve never grown up. A great cast full of impressive performances (Dustin Hoffman, Bob Hoskins, Robin Williams…all of those Lost Boys) that is a lot of fun to watch at any age and at any time. Good Form!

Thanks T! My Review is below!

I’ve always been a huge Steven Spielberg fan (duh, right, who hasn’t?), so in 1991, when this movie first came out, I was really looking forward to it. Robin Williams? Dustin Hoffman? Peter Pan? Hell yeah! Plus, I was looking forward to something entertaining from Spielberg besides Indiana Jones sequels. In 1991, it had… been awhile. Aside from Indy movies, there had only been “Always”, “Empire of the Sun” and “The Color Purple” in an almost full decade preceding “Hook”, so I was anxious to see a return to form.

What I, and others, found though was a strange mix. Peter Pan as a workaholic jerk? What happened to the boy who never wanted to grow up? Today, we’re much more accustomed to the idea of a “new take” on a fairy tale. In the past year or so alone we’ve gotten “Jack the Giant Slayer”, “Snow White and the Hunstman”, and “Mirror, Mirror”, all of which differ substantively from the story we’re familiar with. Such a thing nowadays is commonplace. In 1991, however, the liberties they were taking with the tale of Peter Pan struck me as… odd. Goofy. I understand (and can appreciate better now) the themes that Spielberg wanted to express, especially the main one about keeping in touch with your “inner child” (something that must have been near and dear to his heart), but as a movie, I still think it comes across as inconsistent.

There’s a strange convergence of adult tone and kid’s tone in the story. I suspect that you need to actually BE an adult in order to fully appreciate the themes of holding on to your imagination and childhood spirit, but on the other hand, I think you have to be a child to fully give over to the action/adventure sequences here. We open with a workaholic Robin Williams glued to his cellphone, yelling at his kids, but by the end of the movie, it’s outright kiddie fare. The Lost Boy’s fort is a tree house with a skate park and a basketball hoop. A childish war of insults precedes the infamous food fight. The climactic battle of the film is fought with mirrors and eggs and gumballs. Again, I do understand the intent, but it’s almost as if the movie downshifts too hard into a movie for kids.

The characters were a bit of a mixed bag for me. Hoffman’s Hook is fantastic. Snide, formal, prim, vain, angry, depressed. With his wig and false teeth, he was quite entertaining. Several funny moments throughout the film, he’s a definite asset. Julia Roberts has some moments that made me wish the role had been differently cast, but she was alright. With so many children involved, you’re going to get child actor issues, that’s to be expected, but my biggest gripe was Robin Williams. Not that he was bad in any way, it was just that they really didn’t utilize him all that well. T was right, at that time, there was no one you could name that would have been more perfect as an adult Peter Pan. The problem is, the film spent 80% of its runtime with the emphasis on him as an adult and not as Peter Pan. By the time they get him in the green and have him fly, the movie is basically over.

“Hook” is definitely a good movie for kids when all is said and done. Seeing as it was released after that age had passed for me, though, as an adult I’ve always latched on to the issues as opposed to jumping into the fun. I suppose that’s more on me than the movie, but it is how it is.

It’s certainly not a “bad” movie, T, and as you point out, it’s nowhere near being worthy of a 29% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Fairly or not, this will be judged alongside and in comparison to Spielberg’s other works. That said, I can understand a lot of the criticisms. The tone is kind of mixed up, and a lot of the humor and action should bear a sign “You must be under this tall to ride this ride”. When all is said and done, even though it IS an entertaining movie, and I understand what Spielberg was trying to do, I can only go as high as a



61 thoughts on “Reader’s Recommendations: “Hook”

  1. I always thought it a fun movie, and I liked it, but I never thought it was Robin Williams best work. But it wasn’t bad work either. Although, with naming the film Hook, one would have thought it was supposed to be Hoffman’s movie and not William’s.

    • LOL. I know, right? I liked Hoffman better in it too, actually. Of course, he was given the better role.

      Williams part wasnt tailored to maximize his abilities, I didnt think. He spent way too much time as the confused grown up, and not enough as the man child Peter Pan. 😦

  2. I remember really liking it when I saw it when I was younger. But, I saw it on TV as some special. I’ve always loved Robin Williams and his humor. I definitely need to look it up and see if it still holds up for me 🙂 Awesome review Fogs and fantastic recommendation Terrence!

    • Thank you Kim! 😀

      I dont think seeing it on TV would hurt it much, its not something that would lose a lot of content to editing or whatever.

      I love Robin Williams too, that’s why I was saying I think here, it was disappointing that they didnt cut him loose a little more. He spent 3/4s of the movie protesting “I’m a Lawyer!!” and not enough time flying and fighting and being a big kid. 😦

  3. I like all too many, have boyhood longings. But not if I had to spent it in the Neverland of Spielberg’s vision! What a mess. All the adult characters act like silly children and the children are worse. This is a bad “Disney” ride. And worse yet was the overlong heartfelt ending. I felt a “Tug” on the heartstrings, but a bigger tug to get out of the theater! Too bad. The 50’s animated “Peter Pan” was one of the first movies I remember fondly. This one I soon forgot!

    • LOL. Those kids did pretty much need a maid, didn’t they? In fairness though, I think some of the adult characters were supposed to act like “silly children” at times in order for Spielberg to get his points across.

      He definitely did stretch out the whole “Happy Ending” thing a little, though, didn’t he?

      • Spielberg said he wished he could go back and redo Neverland with the technology available now and recreate Neverland. But the characters in Neverland made it fun. The Lost Boys were as they should be and the adults, well, remember the ones from the 50s cartoon? They were quite the same:

        i.e. “Captain, there was no splash!”
        “You want a splash?! I’ll give you a splash.”

        same stuff. ha. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on my fave! Glad Fogs’ gave it another shot.

  4. It’s been an eternity since I saw this. I know that I was disappointed after having anticipated it for a long time. The kids were so loud and many and active it gives me a headache thinking about it. I remember not caring about Rufio even though it was clear I was supposed to. I don’t hate it but I have no affectionate memories except for taking my kids and having an OK Saturday morning. It was a Spielberg film I never cared about seeing again. That was unusual at the time.

  5. Congrats, Terrence!

    Nice work, Fogs!

    I missed out on ‘Hook’. The idea of seeing Dustin Hoffman playing him has never sat well with me. Always thought John Cleese would have been a better fit. Though, it’s great to get two perspectives on the film.

    • He has a bit of a comedic take on the character Jack. It’s actually pretty funny. It’s worth checking out if you come across it, just for curiosity’s sake I would think more than anything…

      • 🙂 thanks my friend. And, I have included the full movie of HOOK in my response above to Morgan! (he said that if the movie came across his path, he’d watch it…so, it happened to show up!) 😀

  6. Yeah, Hook’s a movie that I didn’t really think much of when I first saw it in theaters, but it had a classic charm that stuck with you over the years and has gone on to become a recurring favorite of mine as well. It’s flawed, sure, but it’s so damn fan that none of the flaws really matter in the end. And it’s one of those movies where you can just sit around with friends firing quotes at one another and watch as the time flies by. Nice read, guys. 🙂

  7. It’s probably been at least over a dozen years since I’ve seen it last, though i remember it more fondly than most. I’ve always been a fan of fairy tales as well as their re-imaginings. I also thought the mid 00’s Peter Pan was somewhat interesting, though I haven’t watched the Neverland miniseries yet. I do remember it being awfully childish, which isn’t always a bad thing, but it can be for some people.

    • Childish isnt always necessarily a bad thing, for example, I liked “The Croods” quite a bit, even though that’s squarely aimed at five and six year olds. I just thought Hook had times when it seemed squarely aimed at adults, and others when it wound up very childish, and it came across as “all over the place” to me.

      Glad to hear you like it, though, and I’m sure T will be too. You may like it more than most, but I doubt anyone likes it more than him! LOL 😯

  8. I don’t know about anyone else, but Hoffman as Hook was quite possibly the BEST thing about that movie. And I’m in the camp of Terrance and think it’s an underappreciated kickass film.

    I saw it in the theater as a kid. I had it on VHS. I’ve made my kids watch it (yes, MADE them. I can only stand to see them view the Disney drivel now for so long). I spent from age 8 to probably 12 WISHING I could wake up and be a Lost Boy just to ride the skatepark they had. Hell, I still do.

    But as an adult, I have to agree with this review also. It’s a little disjointed in some spots but I can look past all of it because at the end, it’s a ridiculously fun movie.


    • I definitely agree about Hoffman’s Hook being the best part of the movie. He was my favorite part, easily.

      Apparently, if this movie caught kids at the right age, it made QUITE an impression on them, Trevor, you’re not alone. I think that’s what happened to Terrence, too. 😀

      “Disjointed” is a good word for how I felt about it though.

  9. PS: Maggie Smith hasn’t aged a single freaking day since this movie was released.

    I think she’s a wizard or something…

  10. OMG Fogs!!! Fogs. Fogs. Fogs. lol. I have to agree with almost everything T said in his answers. I saw this movie when I was about 12 years old, right on the line between adult and kid, and loved it. I do believe crowing became part of the family dialogue for years. It just seemed to capture the beauty of childhood and adulthood all together. I love it. I think it’s in my top 50 favorite movies. But….I’m glad you watched it again. 🙂
    (BTW….you’re post haven’t been showing up in my reader feed. I’m trying to figure out if it’s a problem on my end or on WordPress. Good thing I get an email too!)

    • yes! So glad that you love HOOK as I do. I’m glad that Fogs’ watched it again. He’s def a true good sport and I’m glad to see the score he gave it. I end up transported to a fun place whenever I watch Hook…much like I do when I hear the Forrest Gump theme. Just delightful for me!

      • It summed up so much of what I felt in my teen years: the responsibility of adulthood and the loss of childhood. I so wanted to be a Lost Boy! So badly! But I think the movie shows that being a grownup has it’s magic. Plus, it stuck with some of the Peter Pan themes and characters better than the Disney cartoon did.
        Did you every watch the cartoon that came on TV for a while?

      • I feel the same way when I watch Never Ending Story, Princess Bride or Willow! Childhood complete!

      • Lol. Guess what finally showed up in my feed today! You! Happy Dance!
        Yes, Hook fans are always cause for celebration! It’s our inner child crowing and high fiving and wishing we were as cool as Rufio! 🙂

    • LOL, yup. It’s been more than 20 years, buddy 😯

      Apparently, that’s the dividing line. Those who saw it when they were kids loved it, those who saw it as adults… caused it to be at 29% on Rotten Tomatoes. LOL 😀

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