Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How Little Love Is "Hook" Getting?

I've read a bunch of Robin Williams tributes over the past 36 hours, many of them moving and insightful. But I have also noticed a disturbing trend in those eulogies: None of them makes more than a passing reference to Hook.

Most Williams appreciation articles have placed Hook into a "family-friendly" box with movies like Toys, Jack, and Jumanji. (Unfortunately, Flubber has been mostly ignored in these tributes.) But Hook was so much more, at least for those of us born in the mid-1980s.

Hook provided my generation a seamless bridge from cartoons to live-action films. For those who don't know, Hook is an adaptation of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan that made the story fresh for millions of kids who had already seen the Disney version. The special effects, the focus on the Lost Boys, and Williams' unique sense of humor all made Hook a seminal movie. No 31% rating from snooty viewers on Rotten Tomatoes can change that.

But I made a mistake earlier in this post, saying that none of the tributes I've read focus on Hook. Dante Basco, who played Rufio, posted one on his blog early Tuesday morning. Despite a bunch of grammatical errors belying Basco's claim that he is a writer, the post is filled with references to the film.

Basco mentions Williams' "other worldly improv skills," which transferred well into the world of Neverland. As Peter Pan, Williams employs verbal gymnastics to insult Rufio and begin to take back the respect of the Lost Boys.

That above clip starts with Pan's renewed confidence and concludes with a glimpse of the delicious food fight scene. I'm pretty sure this scene is the main reason that my buddy Greg still calls Hook his favorite movie ever:

The Peter Pan character was, in many ways, perfect for Williams. The actor always had a tendency toward silly impressions, juvenile jokes, and joyfully manic monologues. In Hook, we saw all those things, many of us for the first time.

Hook is wonderful because it features a great cast slumming it in a children's movie. Hook is wonderful because of its connections to the original Peter PanHook is wonderful because of "Rufio!". But most of all, Hook is wonderful because Robin Williams was wonderful.

I would end with some sort of "See you in Neverland..." sendoff for Williams, but Dante Basco already took care of that in his post. Instead, I'll just say that for my friends and me, Hook was on the same level as The Mighty Ducks and The Sandlot. I don't know if I can pay a higher compliment than that.

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