Friday, November 13, 2009

Pearls Before Swine
"Houston, we have a spoiler"

I believe this is something we've all been through. You sit down to share a movie you absolutely love with some friends who have never seen it, only to find looks of confusion and disgust when the lights come up. And as your heart breaks you think to yourself, silently, as your inner child weeps: "Why? Why am I the only one?" Pearls Before Swine is a new feature meant for discussing the phenomenon.
With each new post, I will discuss a movie that I am in the minority on, be it love or hate. Sometimes it will just be movies I disagree with friends on. Sometimes it be movies that apparently I disagree with the entire North American market on. but to keep it simple, this first title will be one that strikes close to home.


Surrounded by people on all sides who'd been swearing by this movie for years, it was really only a matter of time before I saw it. I wasn't against watching it, so much as i just had no real interests. For me it was one of those movies that you always seem to catch the same twenty minutes of on UPN at 1:24 on a Saturday afternoon. But since I had nothing against the movie i sat down to it completely willing to love it- I didn't.
Here's a movie that's directed by Steven Spielberg, with music composed by John Williams, starring actors like Robin Williams, Bob Hoskins, Maggie Smith (the list goes on)- what a pedigree. And yet, I was unmoved. But wait, there's more! It takes the beloved classic Peter Pan and advances it beyond J.M. Barrie's conclusions- and if you don't know, I'm a sucker for artists messing with established narratives. But still, nothing.
So where did Hook go wrong for me? Quite frankly, it never really went right. It's an innovative story that was well written and executed, but in the end it just felt like two and a half hours of a 45 year-old man's naval gazing to me. I'm sure that this is exactly what it was meant to be, but apparently I'm not the intended audience then- cause I wasn't interested. For all it's posturing it felt like little more than a grown man lamenting about getting older. But not in a "at least I've gained wisdom" sort of way. More like in a "Waah, I don't wanna grow up I'm a Toys R' Us kid" sort of way.
We go back to his youth and reminisce with him. See all the friends that he had to out grow in order to have a family. His old haunts, and set pieces; all the things he used to love doing before he got tied down. Even old girlfriends that he still wonders "what if" about. It's all there. Done in beautiful metaphor mind you, but there none the less. And I think we've just outlined the essence of Hook: Peter Pan as a metaphor for mid-life crisis. The story is innovative, the metaphor is beautifully disguised, but in the end it is what it is.
Production wise I think the movie offers all that it can. I spent most of my time with it trying to ignore that the entire thing was probably shot on a sound stage- not that there's anything wrong with that per say. I just feel as though the set design could have used a little more, for lack of a better word, umph. The C.G. elements are quality for 1991, and the plot unfolds with little more than a few pacing issues.
So I guess it just comes down to me then. I was simply unimpressed. I am perfectly willing to agree that the movie is uber quotable ("Ru-Fi-OOOO!") but that and a few other clever moments (plus Julia Roberts' gams) does not a great movie make. If it weren't for a spectacular performance from Dustin Hoffman ("Bad Form!") I would say there is nothing remarkable about the entire thing. Yes, Robin Williams is funny, but not in any way that you can't get from any of his other movies.
The movie is an adventure, and a decently fun one at that. So if it comes down to Hook being the pearl and me being the swine on this one- then so be it. But according to Hook debuted and grossed more than $21 million less than Spielberg's career averages for both. So maybe it's not all me? I am certainly no stranger to movies remaining beloved for the childhood memories they evoke long after childhood has ended. But that doesn't say anything to the quality of said movie- and I didn't see Hook as a child. So if your hanging on and still loving every second of this romp through neverland, more power to you. But as for me, I just don't get it.


the_never_fairy said...

I like your commentary on this silly movie that gets attention.

Plus, it completely undermines the entire premise of Barrie... and has numerous mistakes in it to boot.

It's not a movie (yet?) but there's a Peter Pan sequel that's faithful to Barrie and based on his own idea for more adventure.
Check it out


Kello said...

I love this review so much. You had me at UPN.