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Laramie Movie Scope:
Peter Pan

Adventures of a boy who never grows up with a girl who does

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(2003) Surely, you know the story. Don't you? You haven't forgot, have you? If you have, the fault is in our growing up, I suppose. In Edwardian London, "There never was a happier, simpler family," begins the story's narrator (voice of Saffron Burrows): the Darlings - twelve-year-old Wendy (Rachel Hurd-Wood) and her two younger brothers, John (Harry Newell) and Michael (Freddie Popplewell) with George (Jason Isaacs) their father and Mary (Olivia Williams) their mother - who live with their Aunt Millicent (Lynn Redgrave) and nurse/dog Nana.

One day Aunt Millicent notices in Wendy's features the formation of a young woman's chin with "a hidden kiss." The children's father, a timid bank clerk (whom their mother informs them has a bravery of thinking of others before himself), when humiliated in front of Sir Edward Quiller Couch, the bank's president, into whom Wendy and Nana collide in pursuit of a delivery boy with a note from Wendy's teacher, Miss Fulsom, declares: "I must become a man that children fear and adults respect." Exasperated, to Wendy he pronounces: "It's time for you to grow up!"

"All children grow up," says the narrator, "except one." Having appeared to Wendy earlier in the nursery, Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumpter) returns with Tinker Bell (Ludivine Sagnier) to retrieve his shadow. After she stitches the adumbration, attaching it back onto his feet, he teaches her and her two brothers to fly ("think happy thoughts" along with some fairy dust) before beckoning them to follow him to where they'll never have to listen to adults again. "Never is an awfully long time:" Wendy pauses before leaping from the window ledge into the night air.

Adapting the books and stage play by J.M. Barrie of an immortal boy's adventures with a girl destined for motherhood, director P.J. Hogan, who co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Goldenberg, sprinkles in a liberal pinch of humor and takes playful liberties on the screen (especially the conclusion) while being largely faithful to the original story, creating fabulous scenery, a fantastic soundtrack of enchantment from James Howard Newton's score, and spectacular special effects through digital-animation's wizardry.

In Neverland, Smee on the Jolly Roger reports to Capt James Hook (also Isaacs, perhaps intimating a connection between Wendy's father and the pirate) the breaking up of ice melting into spring on the distant shore. Pan, Hook's nemesis (his white-whale obsession), is back.

Saying her instructions come from Peter, Tink the jealous fairy instructs the Lost Boys (who fell out of their prams and were not returned within seven days) to take aim at a large white "bird" above; Tootle's arrow finds its mark, felling Wendy from the sky. Fortunately, she's protected by Pan's "kiss."

Meanwhile, John and Michael encounter the giant crocodile with the distinctive "tick tock" of a clock swallowed along with Hook's hand; they're captured by Hook's pirates along with Indian Princess Tiger Lily and used as hostages to lure Peter into a trap.

"To die will be an awfully big adventure," Peter tells Wendy, as for "Love? I've never heard of it." Asking her not to spoil the fun of flying and fighting with feelings, he's untroubled by them - "Part of the riddle of his being," remarks Capt Hook. Banished from Peter's sight for her treachery against Wendy, Tink conspires with Hook before he imprisons her inside a lantern; Wendy contemplates Hook's offer to join his pirates as Red-Handed Jill.

However, Wendy's anxiety of forgetting her parents' names motivates her to urge her brothers to return home with her before they themselves are forgotten. Nevertheless, you do believe in fairies Don't you? Don't you?

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2011 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)