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Pie-Eyed with Ty: Take Me To Neverland

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If you happen to be flying around in the sky tonight, I highly recommend you take the second star to the right, and head straight on ‘til morning to visit a little place called Neverland. There, you’ll find a world where kids never have to grow up. It’s the domain of pirates, mermaids, lost boys, fairies, and the forever young flying boy, Peter Pan.

When I was a kid I was sure that I was actually Peter Pan. I would tell my friends:

“Listen there’s something I need to tell you. It’s a secret and it’s very important you don’t tell anyone… Ok, so here’s the deal. I’m Peter Pan, my sister is Tinkerbell, and every night I fly away to Neverland to fight Captain Hook.”

At six years old, the idea of flying around Neverland with a fairy by my side, fighting actual pirates and never growing up was just too good. Peter Pan was more than just a character from my favorite stories, he was a role model. He spent each day having as much fun and as many adventures as he possibly could. The character originated in 1902 in J. M. Barrie’s novel The LittleWhite Bird. Since then, he has been the subject of numerous plays, books, films, and radio programs. I have followed this character through every iteration and here are my favorite films that star Peter Pan:

Peter Pan (1953, Disney)

This is a gateway Peter Pan film for most. Disney really has its thumb on most classic adventures and this is no different. It may be 61 years old, but this movie still holds up! Tinker Bell is probably the 2nd most iconic Disney character – she’s in every closing credit sequence since  her arrival in the Disney universe and there is a stealthy million dollar industry based entirely upon a direct-to-video series starring the little fairy herself you’ve probably never heard of. A warning not to overexpose yourself to the music; that “Following the Leader”  song will get old quick.

Peter Pan (2003, P. J. Hogan)

The most recent film adaptation is probably the closest to the original J.M Barrie novel. Jason Isaacs’ Captain Hook is a pretty scary force to be reckoned with, and Peter (Jeremy Sumpter) is probably the only age and gender appropriate pan in the bunch. Filled with amazing fight scenes that mix sword fighting and FLYING and an uncomfortable amount of sexual flirtation between Peter and Wendy, this version is not to be missed. I recommend listening to the James Newton Howard score whenever you want to add a little bit of drama into your day.

Hook (1991, Steven Spielberg)

My favorite of the bunch. After seeing the trailer for Hook with my dad before seeing Curly Sue, I was so excited that I couldn’t concentrate during the movie. It was the feature presentation at my 7th birthday party and it was the best. I wore green overalls as a tribute to Peter Pan. I also dressed up as Rufio for Halloween two years back. Hook is the root many amazing memories in my own life – a testament to the power of this film. The cast is a dream. Maggie Smith, Bob Hoskins, are Julia Roberts are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s an ensemble at the height of their fame and ability. Dustin Hoffman gives his best performance formance (and there are so many), Glenn Close plays a man, and Robin Williams as Peter is the role that made me a forever fan.

 

Peter Pan (1960, Vincent J. Donenue)

I watched this movie everyday for three years when I was a kid. While Peter was actually played by a 40-year-old lady, and you could see the strings that made everyone fly, I was enchanted. I danced the Jerome Robins choreography, sang the Comden and Green score, and I pretended to fly! While Disney’s version was a gateway to Peter Pan, this movie was a gateway to musicals. Mary Martin, previously known for originating the role of Maria in TheSound of Music, and Nellie Forbush in South Pacific on Broadway, played Peter with such warmth and authority that her performance is actually enhanced by her age. I highly suggest you watch this version before/after/instead of NBC’s upcoming version.

That’s right. Another trip to Neverland is imminent. On December 4th, NBC takes on the musical version Peter Pan starring Christopher Walken as Captain Hook and Allison Williams as Peter in Peter Pan LIVE! In 2015, director Joe Wright will directs his take on the J. M Barrie tale.  Hook can be found on Netflix and Amazon, and would be great for kids 8 and up.