Peter Pan Live!

Movie review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Peter Pan Live! Movie Poster Image
Some mildly scary stuff, confusion in OK stage show.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 132 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Family love and the importance of parents (especially mothers) is emphasized. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Even "good" characters can be selfish and capricious, but villains are sympathetic and parents are steadfast and loving. 

Violence & Scariness

Considerable cartoonish fisticuffs. Peter refers to cutting off Hook's arm, and a creature-suited crocodile is a bit scary. Peter and Hook talk frequently about killing each other. Wendy is shot and seen with an arrow protruding from her chest. Tinker Bell almost dies at one point, and the audience is asked to help resuscitate her. 

Sexy Stuff

A G-rated kiss and discussion of kissing and jealousy between two female actors with one pretending to be male. Peter seems to want Wendy as a mother and a wife, a potentially confusing scenario to children. 

Language

Tinker Bell's famous insult to Wendy ("You silly ass!") is reproduced. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Peter Pan Live! is a filmed version of a staging of J.M. Barrie's famous children's book. Traditional stage conventions may confuse young children: Peter Pan is played by a woman, who has a (G-rated) romance with another woman playing a young girl. Younger children may also wonder why the Lost Boys are played by adult actors. Peter and Wendy talk about kissing, and Peter also asks Wendy to be his mother. Pirates engage in frequent cartoonish fisticuffs; characters threaten to kill each other; one character has had a hand cut off and wears a prosthetic hook. Several characters nearly die, and the audience is asked to help resuscitate one. A creature-suited crawling crocodile looks surreal and may frighten young viewers. A mother cries piteously over her missing children. 

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What's the story?

Based on J.M. Barrie's venerable children's story Peter Pan, PETER PAN LIVE! is a filmed version of a live stage production. Allison Williams is Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn't grow up, who comes to the window of Wendy Darling (Taylor Louderman) hoping to hear some of Wendy's bedtime stories. When he finds her awake instead, he teaches Wendy and her brothers to fly and spirits them away to Never Never Land, a magical world of mermaids, fairies, and a tribe of Lost Boys who take orders from Peter and a villainous band of pirates led by Captain Hook (Christopher Walken). Can Peter survive Hook's dreadful plans, keep Wendy and her brothers safe, and ultimately return them and the Lost Boys back home to London and loving families? 

Is it any good?

With eye-popping sets, gorgeous songs, and zesty acting, Peter Pan Live! is a worthy version of a well-worn story. Allison Williams has an unexpectedly beautiful voice, and she makes for an impudent, lively Peter, while Louderman radiates youth and wide-eyed innocence as Wendy. Walken is a laid-back Hook and surprisingly loose-limbed dancer; anytime he's on-screen, you're having fun watching him. The downside of Peter Pan Live! is that a filmed stage production offers all the limitations of theater (small sets, no CGI) without the things that make live theater electric -- namely, talented human beings dancing and singing only a few hundred feet from where you sit. Children may complain that stage makeup makes actors look "funny" and that they can see the wires that make Pan and company "fly." 

However, for Pan fanatics and Barrie completists, this is a perfectly fine take on an old tale, and many of its songs (a few new ones plus most of the Broadway libretto you've heard before: "I Won't Grow Up") are spine-tinglingly beautiful. Thankfully, the more racist aspects found in some Pan productions have been left behind -- no "Ugg-a-Wug." Yet various aspects of this production likely will confuse many young viewers: Why is a girl pretending to be a boy and talking about kissing another girl while simultaneously asking to be her son? Why are all the Lost Boys so old? Parents will have to make some explanations and watch for the scary moments, such as: when Hook talks gleefully about killing Peter, when Wendy is shot by an arrow, when Tinker Bell dies, and, most particularly, whenever the neon-blue crocodile slithers across the stage in a terrifyingly effective creature suit. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Peter Pan is a classic story. What story elements does it have that make it speak to so many people? What do you like about the story? What do you not like? 

  • Tiger Lily and her tribe are main characters in Peter Pan Live! but have almost no lines. Why? What does this say about this group of characters and their importance to the plot? 

  • The role of Peter Pan is traditionally played onstage by adult women. Why? Are you able to see actress Allison Williams as a young boy instead of a grown woman? Would you rather see a young male actor play Peter Pan? 

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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