Surprisingly enough, for an adaptation of the J. M. Barrie chestnut about the lad who vows to “never grow up,” director P. J. Hogan (Four Weddings and a Funeral) turns in a lavish and yet intimate rendering that is curiously (and appreciatively) adult.
Wide-eyed and coltish in the twilight of Victorian London, young Wendy—along with her two younger siblings—is swept from the intimidation of impending adolescence by the perpetual boy-chick to the treasure map milieu of Neverland, where they are introduced to The Lost Boys (knowingly sketched as quasi-Lord of the Flies refugees). Of course, also on hand are everyone’s favorite childhood villain, Captain Hook, and his band of scurvy dogs. If you’ve read the book, you know the story, especially since Hogan unfolds the story with a very admirable attention to the original tale, while encouraging the able cast to free the characters from the rigid text.
Although Jeremy Sumpter makes for a most annoying Peter Pan, one would expect that from a perpetual pre-adolescent boy. Rachel Hurd-Wood as Wendy sparks a first-crush chemistry with Sumpter via a becomingly innocent and breathy wonder. As the nefarious Captain (and, most telling about Hogan’s intent, double-cast as Wendy’s rigid-yet-ineffective father), Jason Isaacs imbues his character’s villainy with a certain melancholic tragedy.
Ludivine Sagnier presents Tink as an almost feral personification of a child’s id. And while children will enjoy the spectacle for what it is, here adults can also draw amusement from situations rife with Freudian undercurrents and droll innuendo. Thoroughly enrapturing, Peter Pan is one of the year’s best offerings, for most children (some situations may be too dark for the wee ones) and most adults.