Peter Pan (1953) Review — Man Am I Glad I’m Not A Kid Anymore

Because if I had to live like Pan for the rest of my life…

  • Peter Pan is probably the first Disney movie from this canon to be targeted primarily to the fun-loving male side of the audience. Female audiences can enjoy the movie too in regards to Wendy and such, but I’m pretty sure we all know which side of the gender barrier all the flying, pirates, mermaids, and snotty brat getting all the ladies whilst insulting them is targeted towards.
  • I’m sure most of you guys know the plot as there have been a bunch of these adaptations, we’ve seen at least one of them growing up, and they all pretty much follow a similar formula. This adaptation in particular is mostly about Peter taking Wendy on one of the worst dates to ever be animated no thanks to his cocky nature and the female inhabitants not being fond of competition while her brothers fare better due to being more at home with Neverland’s weirdness. Throw in the antics of Hook & Smee, and what do you get? One of the more famous Peter Pan adaptations to exist, of course.

This father looks nothing like his kids, huh?

  • Peter Pan is supposed to be a story about the inevitability of growing up, but the execution of that tale hasn’t aged well over the years – which is kind of ironic when you think about it. Yeah a lot of that probably has to do with the time period it was set in, like Wendy raising a fuss over getting her own room when most girls wouldn’t be caught dead sharing sleeping quarters with their own sisters, let alone brothers. And of course, the less said about those Indians and their “What Makes the Red Man Red” song, the better. But it’s the character arcs themselves – specifically the lack of them – that take me out of the film the most.
  • There’s not really much to the characters beyond what we’re introduced to. I know Peter is supposed to be the eternally youthful mischief maker and all, but he could have at least learned the importance of people growing up from him whilst never truly forgetting him throughout the movie. However, while he does eventually take the Darling children back home, it seemed to be more because he decided to respect their wishes for a bit rather than any real character development on his part. There’s no introspection on his part and we don’t really get to know him beyond the fact that he’s a cocky brat.
  • And the other characters don’t really go through any growth either. Wendy just gets frustrated with Neverland hating her and decides it’s time to go home, while everyone else doesn’t even get that. I guess her father rediscovers his inner child at the end, but he’s absent from the film after the first ten minutes and doesn’t come back until the last two, with all of his acceptance of his children’s’ antics happening off-screen.

How Smee is the one Hook trusts the most is something I will never understand

  • Also, while Hook and Smee are funny (especially when the crocodile gets involved), they are quite possibly the most ineffectual Disney villains of all-time, especially when you read about Hook in the original novel. I know he’s popular and all, but I’ve seen Disney villains who can be both funny and threatening at the same time. Hell, I’ve fought Hook in those Kingdom Hearts games, where he still keeps his comedic tendencies but can match Ichigo in terms of sword skills. Yes he kills one pirate for singing on his ship and throws another overboard because “there was no splash”, but those moments are few and far in-between.
  • So yeah, there’s no real characterization and there’s not even much adventure either when you think about it. Characters just fly from one location to the other without really taking in the sights, and it’s all contained on one island where we spend more time with the pirates than the Indians and mermaids combined. The story’s message is kind of muddled and the short running time of Disney movies in this time period really works against it.

I never noticed that some of the mermaids were topless in this film growing up. Don’t ask how.

  • If you just want to see the prototype to much better Disney adventure films like Pirates of the Caribbean or better Peter Pan adaptations like the 2003 film, or you just want to laugh at Captain Hook’s antics in general, then yeah this film is worth watching. Otherwise, you’re probably better off watching those movies instead. Or an Avatar: The Last Airbender rewatch. I heard that’s popular amongst anime fans too.

Minor Quips

  • What exactly was Hook named before Peter Pan fed his hand to the croc? Still Hook?
  • Still, I have really fond memories of playing that old story painting game on DOS.
  • Don’t even get me started on Tinker Bell and her godawful film franchise.

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