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Sony / 144 Minutes / 1991 / Rated PG / Street Date: November 1, 2011
The story of what would happen if "Peter Pan grew up" came to the screen at Christmastime, 1991, amidst all the hype that only a film by Steven Spielberg - and starring Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman and Julia Roberts - could generate.
With an amazing trailer and a stellar cast, there were high expectations, but the final product turned out to be a rare disappointment for Spielberg. I, for one, hated Hook after first seeing it, but it happened to be playing at a theater I was working at during that time and then something weird happened... the more times I saw bits of it, the more I began to like it.
With Hook, it is all about the small moments and finding something good in a generally overbloated, sometimes painfully misconceived would-be fantasy epic. For every sweet, effective sequence that hints at what might have been, you'll have to suffer through ten other horrendous clunkers that will make you want to click your heels three times in the hopes you'll wake up and it will all be a bad dream. With sets that look like leftovers from Disneyland and enough bad hairdos for a decade's worth of Michael Jackson videos, this is not Spielberg's finest hour.
However, watching it all again, Hook is a film best served by simply skipping around to the best parts, and on that level it is kinda fun. The early scenes in London work best and have a nice fairy tale quality to them. A couple of the still-overdone Neverland fight sequences do manage a modicum of the spark that marked Spielberg's early work, and given the way-overlong 144-minute runtime, the climatic scenes deliver a fair amount of emotion, if only because you so want the thing to be finally over it is more relief than true joy. And it is hard not to revel just a little bit in Pan's final transformation near the end. So if you have that "Chapter Search" button handy, Hook becomes a fairly bearable experience.