This can fly, this can fly, this can fly.
The story of “Peter Pan” has transitioned for years to relate to the kid in all of us. The part of us where we think we don’t want to grow up, and be a kid forever. It divides on various views. If you were a kid forever, then you wouldn’t realize the true meaning of maturity. Or if you were an adult, you would forget what it’s like to be a child. You might lose the magic you had at your age. I like to view growing as a way of learning from your past mistakes.
The movies of “Peter Pan” has divided audiences for years. The 1953 Disney animated classic was delightful and iconic for how the studio improvised on the story, and how Katheryn Beaumont was able to voice the eldest sibling Wendy Darling, the way she voiced Alice in “Alice in Wonderland.” And many other movies tried and failed to live up to its expectations, whether we’re talking about box office numbers or critic’s reviews. Some like “Hook” and “Pan” failed to win people over, the 2003 version got some good reviews, but bombed financially. “Finding Neverland” was the masterpiece about J.M. Barrie, the creator of the stories. And even the Disney version sparked a 2002 sequel “Return to Neverland.” It had nothing on the Disney classic, but it still gave “Pan” the hook on its own terms.
Now, we have “Peter Pan & Wendy,” which is the remake of the animated classic, directed by the passionate and brilliant David Lowery, and made for Disney+. My loyal readers will know that I panned Robert Zemeckis’ take on “Pinocchio,” but “Peter Pan & Wendy” is actually a charming film that’s sweeter and more mature than you’d expect. It may not have the sense of humor of the animated classic, but it picks some talented actors-some of them familiar and others new-it has a sense of adventure, and it has a spirit that keeps both kids and adults thinking happy thoughts.
You know the story of how Peter Pan (Alexander Molony) and his fairy friend Tinker Bell (Yara Shahidi) find Wendy (Ever Anderson) and her younger brothers John (Joshua Pickering) and Michael (Jacobi Jupe), and invite them to Neverland. He teaches them to fly by thinking happy thoughts and by using magic dust. They find the Lost Boys (one of them being played by a young actor with Down Syndrome named Noah Matofsky), meet the Native American princess warrior Tiger Lilly (Alyssa Wapanatahk), and come face-to-face with the evil pirate Captain Hook (Jude Law).
And the story also reminds kids about the message of growing up. Wendy’s parents (Alan Tudyk and Molly Parker) are sending her to boarding school, but she refuses to grow up. And Peter Pan also refuses to grow up, but in more selfish aspects. And yet somehow, they don’t react in rotten or bratty ways. They’re quite passionate with their words. And even Captain Hook is given some emotional value.
Again, I didn’t go for its choice of humor, but I admired the performances (Molony, Anderson, Law, Tudyk, Parker, and even Jim Gaffigan as Hook’s first mate Smee), special effects, and locations for “Peter Pan & Wendy.” Unlike “Pinocchio,” it doesn’t go for poop jokes, candy, or anything condescending in a children’s movie, but rather shows a big heart inside. Lowery was able to remake “Pete’s Dragon” with his heartwarming skills, and he applies the same for this remake.
We have another live-action Disney remake “The Little Mermaid” coming to theaters this May. Will it be good or bad? That’s another story. For now, “Peter Pan & Wendy” feeds “Pinocchio” to Tick Tock.
Streaming on Disney+