I predicted that Ben would enjoy Alice in Wonderland. It’s random and he (like myself) love random humour. I thought he would find Alice more annoying than he did, though.
So, onto Peter Pan. Disney’s adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s 1911 novel, Peter and Wendy, follows the adventures of the Darling children (Wendy, John & Michael), as they are taken to Neverland one night, by Peter Pan. Peter is a boy who never grew up (literally, not just some kind of man-child). Once in Neverland, they meet pirates, mermaids and fairies, amongst others. I don’t think I need to go into much more detail, as most people know the story well.
I’m not sure if this one will be Ben’s ‘cup of tea’ as, despite him being a Harry Potter superfan, he’s not really into fantasy and traditional fantasy characters. He’ll hate Wendy. Probably won’t like Peter, actually. Oh well, I might be wrong. We’ll see.
Personally, I did enjoy the film and watched it many times as a child, but it’s not one that I tend to enjoy as much now (however, I do like the Tinkerbell film franchise otherwise). I find Peter to be very arrogant and I don’t find it easy to get behind an arrogant protagonist.
For those of you who aren’t British or are too young to remember, there was a kid’s TV show in the 1980’s (and 70’s, but I’m too young to remember) called ‘Rainbow’. It featured a man in a bear costume, a gay hippo and the full-body puppet interpretation of a BDSM gimp mask that happened to be shacked up with a full-grown man in a rainbow house. But why am I starting a review about my experience watching 1953’s Peter Pan by telling you this? Well, there are two reasons.
The first reason is that during the 1980’s I watched ‘Rainbow’ a lot. It was one of my favourite shows when I was young. Now, in one episode the full-grown man, Geoffrey, takes George (the gay hippo) and Zippy (walking gimp mask) on a trip to the theatre. To see Peter Pan. Thanks to YouTube, I’ve found the episode, and you can watch it here. It’s worth a watch, just to see how batshit-crazy British kid’s shows used to be, and to see the taxi driver’s uncomfortable reaction to being excitedly told by a full-body gimp mask that he’s going to watch Peter Pan… You see the thing is, that both puppets were so excited about seeing Peter Pan at the theatre, that it was mentioned about three-hundred times in the first five minutes (sometimes hilariously too). So my 5-year-old self is thinking, “Holy shit, Peter Pan must be amazing!” (probably not word for word). But alas, when we see parts of the play throughout the episode, my 5-year-old self, started to think “Fuck me this is boring!!!” (probably not word for word). As a result, I have always had real negative connotations with Peter Pan, and when I saw the list of films that Kerry was going to make ask me to endure watch, as part of this Disney project, this was not far behind Bambi in the hierarchy of ‘movies that I was dreading appearing next on the list’.
The second reason I’m telling you all about Rainbow, is that ‘Peter Pan’ did not hold my attention very well. It’s a popular film, and I’m very nervous about crapping on a film beloved by many passionate Disney fans, but try as I might, I just could not get invested in this story. So talking about ‘Rainbow’ is a great way to boost the word count to cover the gaps in detail where I should be discussing the film. Clever huh? I’m sorry.
The intro is the usual Disn…. Ok, look, I’m reviewing my thirteenth film now, can I just tell you when one of the intro’s sounds different or breaks from the norm, so I’m not just repeating myself every time? Thanks. I realised when watching the intro credits, that the name I spotted a few films ago ‘Ub Tweeks’, is actually ‘Ub Iwerks’, and I misread it. It’s still a fantastic name none-the-less (I’m now resisting making jokes about how I messed Ub. I hope if his children read that then they didn’t get all Ub in arms about it. Ok I really need to stop this).
Right, so we are in England again, which means once again, we have stereotypical English ‘tea and cucumber sandwich’ posh accents everywhere. Mr and Mrs Darling are going out for the evening. They have three kids, two young boys, John and Michael, and a daughter called Wendy. I am informed Wendy is supposed to be around the age of thirteen. I call bullshit here. She looks and sounds like she’s twenty-three. Plus there’s the fact she doesn’t want to grow up, so I can only conclude that she actually is indeed a twenty-three-year-old that is in unhealthy levels of denial about aging, and still sleeps in a nursery with her younger brothers. Wendy keeps filling her brothers minds with tales of ‘Peter Pan’, much to her father’s disquietude (I’ve been waiting some time to use that word) and chagrin (I’ve been waiting to use that too). They also have a dog called Nana, who continues Disney’s trend of animals that have capabilities that are somewhat above what one might usually expect from them. It can clean, serve drinks, spell words with blocks as well as look after the children. So yeah, slightly advanced for a canine.
Because of these Peter Pan stories, Mr Darling says it’s time for Wendy to have her own room. Not because she’s twenty-three. There’s an unattended shadow kicking around which is understandably disconcerting to all. After the parents leave, Peter Pan enters to retrieve the shadow, as it’s his and he left it behind. Ok then. He tries to reattach the shadow with soap. Ok then. Wendy decides to sew the shadow back onto Peters shoes instead. Ok then. Peter Pan is joined by Tinkerbell, who throughout large portions of the film, is struck down with a severe case of resting bitchface. More on that later. Wendy speaks to Peter Pan like they’re old friends, which is kind of weird seeing as they’ve never met.
Peter Pan likes Wendy’s stories about him, and so she doesn’t have to move out of the nursery which would stop her telling them so easily, she must go with him to Neverland, so she won’t grow up. Wendy does the responsible thing you should do, when a strange flying boy tells you to leave the house at night and go to an unfamiliar land. She agrees and insists on bringing her very young brothers too… So she brings in John, who in another lifetime was the first-choice actor for the Harry Potter series, and Michael who can barely even talk yet, to go on this inexplicably reckless mission. At some point, Wendy also tries to kiss Peter, much to Tinkerbell’s disquietude and chagrin (using these words twice is too much then?), which is somewhat forward, even for a twenty-three-year-old.
But how to get there? They can’t fly. No problem he says, just think of a very happy thought and you will. Wendy picks the obvious happy thought; “I’ll think of a mermaid lagoon!” Didn’t see that one coming. But the way she says ‘Mermaid Lagoooooun’ is spectacular:
Fun Fact: It is physically impossible to say Lagoon in a more upper-class English manner. It’s phenomenal.
The other boys think of something happy as well, but I don’t know or care what as I’m too busy replaying “Mermaid Lagoooooun” in my head over and over again. But alas, it doesn’t work, because of course it doesn’t. Fortunately there is another way to create one’s ability to fly:
You spank pixie dust out of a Fairy’s arse. Then throw it over the children you want to make airborne. Simple. Phew. With that sorted, off they go.
At this point we get the first song since the opening credits. Whereas Cinderella was warbling after 3 minutes, and Alice after 3½, in Peter Pan they kindly wait 18 minutes before we get our first delightful ditty. It’s a new thing that I am tracking to see how long it takes. I would go back through the first 10 films to make my research more thorough, but that would mean putting on the first 10 films again. So I’ll stick with what I’ve got.
With the very best of intentions, Michael throws pixie dust over Nana, who is now tied up by a rope outside (because Disney loves to skate the line between super-evolved, human-like wildlife and animal cruelty), but because she’s tied up by a rope, she cannot fly with them…. And as a result nearly garottes herself.
They arrive in Neverland, where the excitement and adventure of the story can really begin! And where my concentration goes off a cliff. Adventures and high drama involving pirates really isn’t my bag. I never liked any of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. My tastes seem to be quite different to that of most humans I’ve discovered. We go aboard a pirate ship, where there are some annoying and ugly pirates, unsurprisingly. They all bully a servant dude. His name is Mr Smee. If you’re a presumably single servant to some bad dudes AND you’re called Mr Smee, you haven’t really been dealt the best hand. Captain Hook is looking at a map. Ah! In the North-East of the map is Mermaid Lagoooooun! Excellent. He wants to know where Peter Pan is, as the reason he has a hook for a hand is that during a previous fight with Peter Pan, a crocodile bit his hand off. The crocodile also swallowed a clock at some point, and now stalks Hook, whilst ticking. And I thought normality would resume after Alice In Wonderland. A very entertaining moment occurs when some dude starts singing and because his voice is extremely annoying, Hook decides to deal with that issue by shooting him. That was funny. You wouldn’t have shit like that in modern films. It’s also lucky Snow White never went on vacation to Neverland, as she would have been full of lead within the first hour. Another fun moment is Smee shaving a seagull’s arse, by the way.
Peter Pan shows up with “some scurvy brats” and shit’s got real. Tinkerbell goes on the attack. I’ve seen nothing but feistiness and attitude from her so far. Then my attention completely goes…
I refocus to find Peter Pan, Wendy and Co in a hideout with a load of boys. Apparently, they’re the ‘lost boys’. And Peter Pan is banishing Tinkerbell for trying to trick the boys into shooting Wendy. So I’m informed that Tinkerbell has her own film series and is usually nice but even though I know that she is jealous of Wendy because she fancies Peter Pan, that is seriously, SERIOUSLY dickish. As in unforgivable! Also, bearing in mind that Peter Pan is a teenage boy, and that Tinkerbell is the size of a hand, I’m not sure how a relationship like that could ever work… Oh. Right. Also, I’m waiting for Peter and Wendy to get down to business. And it’s perfectly fine to wait for that as because even though he has never grown up, he is still probably technically about forty-five, and she is obviously twenty-three.
Then we find John leading some Lost Boys to hunt for Indians, I’m not sure why. Although my concentration is going in and out and I’m very bored, the film does itself no favours by explaining shit really badly.
Time for some racism! At least the film has deemed that it’s time for some racism. We have Indians of a native variety, who are apparently “cunning but not intelligent”… They are also made to look gormless. They kidnap the boys, I’m not really sure why, as my concentration has once again wondered. Ah brilliant, its Mermaid Lagoooooun!!!! It’s lovely that Wendy doesn’t have to just think about the Mermaid Lagoooooun, now she’s in Neverland she can actually VISIT the Mermaid Lagoooooun. The mermaids only have shells or hair covering their breasts and I find it slightly arousing… 😳 I think I just said too much. The mermaids seem to love Peter, and just like Tinkerbell, they are jealous of Wendy. They try to force Wendy into the water. When she protests, Peter replies, “They were only having a little fun, weren’t you girls?”. One of the lovely mermaids replies, “We were only trying to drown her!” That made me laugh. I like them. After they disappear from the screen, my concentration wonders off yet again….
I refocus sometime later, to find Peter Pan and Hook fighting, which should have resulted in Hook being eaten by the Crocodile… but he doesn’t get eaten by the Crocodile. To explain why, and also to fill the void left in this review by me losing interest throughout the last ten minutes, I have created a new game called ‘Disney fucking with physics’, where you have to drink every time Disney… fucks with physics. I will present a few examples of this frequent occurrence for you now
Donald Duck discovers that even after the rope he was clinging to breaks, he doesn’t have to immediately worry, thanks to “Disney fucking with physics”.
The way water falls, Disney style.
Captain Hook however, with his ability surf on a crocodiles mouth, run on water and….god knows what he’s doing in that third picture, is to be commended for taking “Disney fucking with physics” to the next level, and will probably leave me inebriated by the end of the film. Thank you Hook.
Wendy is worried about Tiger-Lily. Who the fuck is Tiger-Lily?! My god, I should really pay attention, but I’m bored! I stop the film to be brought up to speed on exactly what the hell is going on. No wonder I didn’t pay much attention, this really is not my type of film. And I quite enjoyed Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland. It’s looking like I won’t be three for three for appreciating the Disney films of the fifties…
All the good guys are hanging out with the Indians. I notice that John can translate for the Indians. It’s very convenient. It’s a bit like when that kid in ‘The Mummy Returns’ can really quite fortunately, fluently read hieroglyphics. My god I hate that film. Aside from these convenient plot devices that I’m picking up on, I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, so whilst we’re on the subject of Native Americans/American Indians, and I have some time to kill, let me tell you about my friend’s cats.
He once told me, “We have three cats. The first is called ‘Apache’, named after the famous American Indian Apache tribes.”
“The second is called ‘Sioux’, which is named after the famous groups of Indian tribes that went by that name.”
“The third is called ‘Trevor’.”
Hook tricks Tinkerbell into telling him where Peter Pan is, then traps her. Resting bitchface, attempts murder AND is also stupid then. Wendy sings a song. My that’s annoying. Then the kids get kidnapped. Hook gives them an ultimatum to become pirates or walk the plank. They decide they won’t sell-out and become pirates. Oh, and by the way, Hook sends a bomb as a present to Peter Pan and Tinkerbell escapes and saves him with a second to spare. Almost forgot that part!
After jumping off the plank, Peter Pan catches Wendy, saves the kids, fights Hook, meaning we have more ‘Disney fucking with physics’ joy, and finally forces Hook to face the ultimate comeuppance: He makes him say that he is a Codfish. Take that Hook…. Um, ok. Wendy then wakes up by the bedroom window and who knows if it was real or a dream. Personally, I think that I don’t care.
For me, this was probably a good film for kids, and probably a decent film for a lot of adults…. who are not me. I wonder if we are supposed to like Peter Pan. It’s just that I find him to be a lot like one of the popular boys at a high school. Very confident, has a lot of girls throwing themselves at him (and mermaids and fairies in this case) totally up his own arse and to be honest, I thought he was a bit of a dick. In fact, there was no one in the film that I particularly liked. Even Wendy I found to be annoying and too dumbly sycophantic towards Peter. I’ve spoken a few times about my need for a strong protagonist (a Zack Morris if you will) in a film, and not for the first time, I found this Disney film lacking.
I really want to try and enjoy each film I watch, and I love how there are so many really passionate Disney fans out there, and I genuinely don’t want to shit on a much-loved film (except Bambi) for the sake of it. This is one of those times, a bit like with Pinocchio, where I just don’t get it. I found the plot slightly patchy at times and several characters in a full film seemed to undergo less character development than Nana the dog did in the first ten minutes. I just found I didn’t care about ANYTHING that happened. It’s just not for me. Maybe this is a prime example of a Disney film that will divide the fanatics from the cynics? I’m sure (hopeful) that there will be plenty of future entries that will make me applaud Disney and allow me to enjoy some (perhaps rare) synergy with its passionate fanbase, but Peter Pan isn’t it. At least, together, we can all still enjoy a good Mermaid Lagoooooun.