A lot or a little?
Parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Peter Pan is a 2003 live-action version of the classic movie and book. The movie is OK for tweens who aren't frightened by brief but graphic images such as Captain Hook's amputated arm as he puts on one of his hooks, or demonic-looking mermaids. The movie has a lot of fantasy violence, including swordfights, guns, crocodile attacks, and hitting below the belt. Pirates are killed. We see boys' bare behinds. There are a couple of sweet kisses and some subtle references to puberty. Adult characters drink and smoke in both Neverland and "the real world," and a pirate offers liquor and cigars to a child.
What's the story?
This story begins with Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up, leaving Neverland on occasion so he can listen to the stories that Wendy tells her brothers, Michael and John. One night, Peter's shadow is caught in the window. When he comes back to get it, Wendy sews it on, and Peter invites them back to Neverland. There they meet up with the Lost Boys, and battle Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs). This film version focuses on the relationship between Peter and Wendy. In Neverland, Peter tells Wendy she will never have to grow up but then makes her into the mother of the Lost Boys. She assures him (and herself) that they are only playing, but she feels the pull of the adult world. She even tells Peter that Captain Hook is "a man of feeling" while he is just a boy. Feelings are taken very seriously in this film. Fairies like Tinkerbell can have only one feeling at a time. Peter cannot answer when Wendy asks him what his feelings are. And Hook has a deadly poison made up of "a mixture of malice, jealous, and disappointment."
Is it any good?
Director/screenwriter P.J. Hogan's sumptuously beautiful retelling of the classic story maintains its timeless charm. The production design is simply gorgeous, with exquisite period detail. Even state-of-the-art special effects like flying and computer graphics are consistently conceived and gratifyingly believable. The jarring notes are Peter's (unforgivably) American accent and some anachronistic-sounding music. Ludivine Sagnier does her best as Tinkerbell, but the fairy is probably best portrayed as a spot of light.
Some Pan lovers will object to some gentle tweaking of the story. But it's not so much to be politically correct or bring it up to date as it is to remove any distractions from what in today's view would be seen as sexism.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why someone might not want to grow up. What do grown-ups do to keep the best part of childhood inside themselves? Is that what Barrie was doing in writing this story?
How is this version of Peter Pan similar to and different from other versions?
How does this version mine comedy out of violence? Why is the absurdity of, for instance, Captain Hook shooting and killing pirates who talk out of turn funny to some?
- In theaters: December 25, 2003
- On DVD or streaming: May 4, 2004
- Cast: Jason Isaacs, Jeremy Sumpter, Rachel Hurd-Wood
- Director: P.J. Hogan
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Book characters, Pirates
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: adventure action sequences and peril
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.