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Peter Pan



Stereotypes mar otherwise jaunty Disney adventure classic.
Popular with kids
  • Review Date: December 1, 2003
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1953
  • Running Time: 76 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Wendy will teach kids the value of having parents, even if it seems like the Lost Boys have a lot of fun doing whatever they want. Wendy also proves that sometimes you do have to grow up and mature.

Positive messages

There are several obvious themes in the movie, like growing-up, maturing, and taking responsibility. It's also unclear whether Wendy, John, and Michael actually went on an adventure or whether they dreamt their time with Peter Pan. The message is that imagination is important, and that as long as you have an imagination, you'll always have a magical, child-like quality. The movie takes a very dated, stereotypical view of Native Americans (a good talking point for kids), but they're portrayed as Peter's courageous allies, which was controversial when the play was written. Women are catty with one another, and Tinker Bell measures her hips and scowls in disgust.

Positive role models

Wendy is a responsible big sister and tries to protect her brothers when they are in Neverland. Despite his motto to never grow up, Peter Pan takes responsibility as well and helps Wendy, John, and Michael return to their parents. Tinker Bell realizes the error of her misguidedly jealousy and saves Peter's life, though for most of the move she is incredibly jealous and mean toward Wendy. The mermaids are sexy and catty.

Violence & scariness

Captain Hook often points his hook and shoots his gun toward people. A crocodile "tick tocks" menacingly in the water. The Lost Boys are ready to attack Wendy and her brothers with slingshots, stones, and other crude weapons. Peter and Hook sword-fight more than once. Tinker Bell is viciously jealous and tries to hurt Wendy. Hook orders the kids to walk the plank, but they survive. Mr. Snee keeps talking about slitting people's throats. The kids are tied up several times -- first by the Indians and then by Hook's pirates. Hook gives Peter a bomb that explodes but doesn't hurt anyone, because Tink sacrifices herself. An all-out brawl develops between the pirates and the Lost Boys. Hook falls into the mouth of the alligator and repeatedly ends up in its jaws.

Sexy stuff

Tinker Bell is jealous of Wendy, who in turn acts jealously when Peter pays attention to Tiger Lily. The mermaids are also jealous of Wendy and push her into the water. Tiger Lily and Peter rub noses, and then she gives him a kiss on the cheek, which makes him blush red.


Insulting language like "wench," "stupid," "imbecile," "coward," "cod fish," "bloomin'" and "idiot." Characters occasionally make sexist remarks like "Girls talk too much!" and "A jealous female can be tricked into anything." The Indians are referred to (and refer to themselves) as the "Red Man" and act stereotypically. A song calls them "Injuns." At one point they tie up the Lost Boys around a big soup pot, as if they were cannibals. Wendy uses the word "savages" in reference to both the Lost Boys and the tribe.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The Big Chief passes a peace pipe to the kids, who smoke it and make ugly faces or turn green. Mr. Smee drinks from a liquor jug a couple of times.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Disney's classic take on the Boy Who Won't Grow Up is alternately a tale of magic and imagination, but occasionally a disturbing, violent story of what happens when kids must fend for themselves. There are some very dated racist and sexist stereotypes and themes -- from the "What Makes the Red Man Red" song and the depiction of Big Chief and his tribe to the way all the girls are jealous of each other and Peter's affections. Peter even says "Girls talk too much," and Captain Hook alludes to how "jealous girls" are easy to trick. These cultural relics weren't seen as a problem when the movie came out, but they certainly are now; if you can discuss them with your kids afterward, you can still enjoy the way Wendy reminds all the Lost Boys that they do need mothering and that growing up means taking responsibility.

What's the story?

This is the Disney version of the Victorian classic about the boy who would never grow up. Wendy, Michael, and John Darling, three London children, meet Peter Pan, a boy who can fly. He has been drawn to their warm, comfortable home, and to Wendy's stories. He sprinkles them with fairy dust and they fly off past the "second star to the right," where he lives in a magical place called Neverland. There they rescue an Indian princess, and fight pirates led by Captain Hook, before returning home to wave goodbye as Peter returns to Neverland without them. The 2013 Blu-ray release includes a deleted scene, deleted song, and a short film Growing Up with Nine Old Men.

Is it any good?


The animation in PETER PAN is as lively as its energetic hero. The scenes set in Victorian London are beautiful, and the shift in perspective as the children round Big Ben and fly off to Neverland is sublimely vertiginous. Most children see Peter as that wonderful ideal, a child with the power to do whatever he pleases for as long as he pleases.

The story does have moments that are whimsical but also very odd: the nanny is a dog; the crocodile that ate Captain Hook's hand keeps following him for another taste; Peter loses his shadow; the Lost Boys have no parents, and unlike Peter, no special powers, fairy guardian, or unquenchable brio. Some children find this engaging, but a few find it troublesome, or worry about what happened to Peter's parents and whether he will be all right without them. They may also be sad that the story ends with Peter bringing the Darling children home and then going back to Neverland without them.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the idea of never growing up. Have you ever thought that you didn't want to grow up? Have you ever thought that you'd like to be a grown up right now? What would you do?

  • Talk about how girls and Indians are portrayed in the movie. What kinds of stereotypes do you recognize? Can you still enjoy the movie even if you're bothered by the stereotypes? How has our society changed since this movie was made?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 5, 1953
DVD release date:March 6, 2007
Cast:Bobby Driscoll, Hans Conried, Kathryn Beaumont
Directors:Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Wilfred Jackson
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Book characters, Music and sing-along, Pirates
Run time:76 minutes
MPAA rating:G

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written byTiffy6666 May 1, 2011

Suitable for all ages

Most adorable Movie ever!! I've been watching it with my now 5 year old sister since she was 2 and still love it! :) Some of the adult reviewers are way to strict it's a family friendly movie! I'm fifteen and never even noticed all the bad things you've mentioned, young children are exposed to way worse in real life. It's a Disney movie and I suppose there are always going to be parts where people think 'Well that really shouldn't be there.' You ned to loosen up, the whole point of the movie is exploring the magic that is childhood. Not one to miss guys!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written bywhovian85 April 9, 2008
I haven't seen this movie in years, but I just feel that I have to defend the movie. First off Hook wants to kill Peter because Peter cut off his hand and feed it to the crocodile. Second, I'm sure that the parents didn't leave that kids alone as there probably were at least a couple of servants in the house(at that time even middle class families had servants). Finally, I find the fact that all the girls swoon over Peter harmless, and the fact that he's oblivious to it all shows his boyish innocence.
Educator and Parent Written bydontgoafftheheid July 11, 2014

You're all crazy!!!!

This film's a classic! Many have admitted watching it as a child...did it do you any harm? Could you attribute your crazy uni days to the fact a mermaid in Peter Pan had shells for a bikini? I think not! If your child picks up on all the ridiculously overanalysed nonsense you've mentioned then they probably should be writing a thesis on the symbolism in Ibsen's 'A Doll's House' not watching Disney Films. Why don't you wrap them in cotton wool, stick them in a cupboard and release them when they're 21? Oh yeah because then they wouldn't have experienced the world around them, they'd look at people from other cultures and ridicule their differences, they'd indulge in underage sex and drinking because they'd never experienced they chance to discuss it. Get over yourselves!


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