Gender Roles – Men
Gender Roles - Men: 3 Stars
Peter Banning may be a powerful and intimidating lawyer in the real world, but once he’s transported to Never Never Land, he begins to look very sorry and impotent. He can no longer argue his way out of conflicts with money or influence, and he’s clearly no match for the bold and aggressive Captain Hook.
In time, of course, Peter learns to fly and fight and takes on the Captain as he did in his youth. He learns to use his imagination and reconnects with some of the sweetest emotions he’s experienced in life in order to find the happiness to fly. This transformation shows us that even some of the most selfish and thoughtless men can re-invent themselves as caring and devoted fathers.
Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles – Women
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Gender Roles - Women: 2 Stars
Hook doesn’t have any major roles for women, but it does have two memorable women in supporting roles. The first is Wendy, now an old woman, who has dedicated her life to finding homes for orphan children like the lost boys that she once cared for in Never Never Land. Wendy has always been a pivotal character in the Peter Pan story, however in this version, she simply plays the part of a playful and loving old grandmother, who eventually reveals to Peter Banning the truth about who he really is.
The other female character is Tinkerbell, who remains the same feisty fairy as always. She takes Peter to Never Never Land and looks out for him during his quest to free his children. She clearly shares a deep bond with Peter, but she doesn’t play a large role in helping him recover his lost childhood or in defeating Captain Hook.
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 3 Stars
Hook takes the rare step of casting a fairly aged woman, Granny Wendy, as the story’s revered matriarch. Granny Wendy is someone who is loved and respected by everyone that knows her, and who acts as the moral compass for the film’s hero. While it’s terrific to see an old woman in such an important position, she’s isn’t given enough time or attention to make a large difference in Hook’s rating.
Tinkerbell is also a unique departure from more traditional depictions of the sassy pixie. She’s a tomboyish character who is more interested in playing games than playing dress-up. Just the same, the writers clearly couldn’t resist the temptation to take her out of her comfortable pixie clothes and put her in a fancy ball gown, even if only for one short scene.
Plot: 1.5 Stars
Tinkerbell arrives in London and spirits Peter Banning off to Never Never Land - but quickly recedes into the background once they arrive. She shows some bravado and leadership when she challenges Hook to give her three full days to re-train Peter.
But once Hook agrees to the challenge, Tinkerbell has very little to do with the coaching and training of Peter Banning - all of which is taken over by the Lost Boys. She shouts at the boys from the sidelines, but they ignore her to the point that audiences might question whether they even hear or see her. Her interactions with Peter are brief and limited to casual conversations, making Tinkerbell little more than another sidekick. She doesn’t do much to support Peter in defeating Hook. At times, it even seems she’s willing to let Peter forget his children if it means he’ll stay with her in Never Never Land forever.
Character Development: 2 Stars
Wendy, Tinkerbell, and even Peter’s daughter Maggie, all have their defined roles with no real surprises. Each of them have been hurt by Peter. He’s broken their hearts and wounded their sense of self. Each of them is likely disappointed in the sort of person he’s becoming. And each of them has likely been angry at the mistakes he’s made and his selfish behavior. But not one of them of them takes the time to confront him. To the contrary, they make it clear that they intend to go on loving him as he is, hoping that he’ll eventually learn what’s truly important.
The only person who really takes Peter to task for his selfish behavior is his wife, Moira. She makes an eloquent speech on the magic of childhood and the fleeting moments that parents have to influence and shape their children’s lives. But once she’s said her piece, she walks away and disappears from the plotline almost completely.
Love: 1.5 Stars
There is a sad little love story between Tinkerbell and Peter Pan that seems to pay tribute to the idea of a woman loving an undeserving man from the sidelines - eternally watching and waiting for him to return to her. Peter never gives any indication that he loves Tinkerbell or even thinks of her feelings. Theirs is truly a one-sided love story that will never bring Tinkerbell anything but heartache. The film seems to suggest that Tinkerbell’s undying loyalty is noble and inspiring rather than pitiful. But since Tinkerbell is the only real role model for young women in this film, she ought to have a bit more pride and self-respect. There is nothing magical for girls in a film where the only character that they might try to emulate has spent years of her life loving a man who doesn’t love her back.