Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

When my daughter first told me that the school play was going to be Peter Pan, I had to stop myself from getting every copy of every version of the movie or TV special I could lay my hands on.

I managed to contain myself but was very happy when the kids performed over the weekend. Everyone did a good job, everyone looked great and sang well. Captain Hook had a great evil laugh. Perhaps instead of “Speak Like a Pirate” day in September there should be a “Laugh Like a Maniacal Evil Leader” day. Peter had that joie d’vivre and perfect petulance when he didn’t get his way. And Wendy, well what I can I say here without being an annoyingly boastful mother. But I liked her performance, too.

Peter Pan Mary Martin

Mary Martin As Peter Pan

For those of us over a certain age, we can remember when Mary Martin played the forever young man who never wanted to make the first step of growing up. What you may not know is that Mary Martin was instrumental in getting the musical version of Peter Pan created during the 1950s. She originated the musical role on Broadway and would win a Tony for her performance.

In the 1970s, Olympic Medal winning gymanst Cathy Rigby took on the role. With her hard-won athletic skills, Rigby made flying and mid-air somersaults look natural. When the play went to Broadway, Rigby was nominated for a Tony award for her performance.

Peter Pan Cathy RigbyOf course many people know the Disney animated version. A sequel came out about 10 years ago featuring Jane, the daughter of Wendy who is kidnapped by Captain Hook during WWII. And there is the version with Robin Williams as a grown up Peter Pan with Maggie Smith playing Wendy. We also have Finding Neverland which is about how the write James Barrie came up with the play. None of these movies are my favorite one about the boy who can fly.

My favorite is the live action movie from 2003. The movie stars Jeremy Sumpter as the boy who loves to torment Captain Hook. Unlike the others, this movie is gorgeously filmed. The details of the rooms, the depth of the colors, and layers of scenery brings the movie to life or perhaps larger than life.

Peter Pan IMDb com

Image from IMDb.com

But it is not only those visual aspects. I love the language, the words that are spoken. When Wendy expresses her amazement of Peter time and again she speaks of “the cleverness of you.” I am fascinated by Jason Issacs as he plays Hook who learns to fly with happy thoughts of Peter being dead. As Hook breaks down Peter, I am mesmerized by his forceful nature until he is broken down by his one sad thoughts.

Issacs is equally compelling as Mr. Darling who works in a bank to support his family in the manner to which society dictates. There are times that Darling is embarrassed time and again in front of his employer until he begins to realize what really matters in his life. It is his performances that draws me back to this version.

Live performances are better. But if you can’t get that, this makes a great second place.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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