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Still shot from the movie: Peter Pan.

Peter Pan

In this live-action version of the famous fairy tale, Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumpter) invites Wendy (Rachel Hurd-Ward) and her younger brothers, John (Harry Newell) and Michael (Freddie Popplewell) to the magical isle of Never Land. Although it follows the familiar plot points, this adaptation does not prove as child friendly as some of the other tellings of J.M Barrie's classic story. Get the movie review and more. »

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Overall: C+ 2.5
Violence: C-
Sexual Content: B-
Language: A
Drugs/Alcohol: A-
Run Time: 113
Theater Release: 24 Dec 2003
Video Release: 03 May 2004
MPAA Rating: PG
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Now admit it…the idea of never growing up sometimes is attractive. No bills to pay, chores to do or tasks to finish at the office. Instead, days could be spent brandishing swords while playing dress up. Maybe that's why Peter Pan seems to have a recurring appeal as a script for moviemakers.

Drawn up to the nursery window of a London home, a boyish Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumpter) listens to Wendy Darling (Rachel Hurd-Ward) tell stories to her younger brothers, John (Harry Newell) and Michael (Freddie Popplewell). Then he scoots home to Never Land where he recites the narratives, in great detail, to a dirty bunch of Lost Boys.

But the nightly adventure threatens to come to an end when Wendy's Aunt Millicent (Lynn Redgrave) comes to visit. Insisting that the 12-year-old girl needs to grown up, she encourages Mr. and Mrs. Darling (Jason Isaacs, Olivia Williams) to put their daughter in a room of her own.

Worried that he will no longer be able to hear her stories, Peter sneaks in through the open bedroom window and invites Wendy to come back with him to Never Land. Using a combination of good thoughts and a generous sprinkling of fairy dust from Tinkerbell (Ludivine Sagnier), Wendy and her brothers are soon soaring over the city's rooftops on their way to the enchanted island where you never have to grow up.

Full of scurvy buccaneers and a molting parrot, this latest telling follows the well-known story line. Princess Tiger Lily (Carsen Gray) and the bespectacled Smee (Richard Briers) make their appearances along with the nasty Captain Hook (also played by Jason Isaacs).

However, this film may not be as child friendly as other adaptations. The mermaids who live in the lagoon are a haunting group with webbed fingers and an eerie air. Armed with pistols, Captain Hook tends to shoot his crewmen at the slightest provocation, leaving more than one pirate dead on the deck. Clutching Wendy against his whiskery face, the menacing Captain threatens the young girl with his hook and later a sword. Peter also grows increasingly sassy with the sea bound sailors, and a couple of young boys' bare behinds are shown for comic relief.

While I'm unsure who this film will appeal to, it's likely children won't understand the dilemma caused by Wendy's lengthy kiss with Peter Pan or the boys' deep-rooted fear of growing old. Subjects like budding sexuality, the refusal to accept adult responsibilities and the pursuit of eternal youth may cause introspection for older audience members, but these weighty and sometime dark themes may fly over the heads of most young Pan fans who just want to see the airborne boy in action.

Peter Pan is rated PG: for adventure action sequences and peril.

Director: P.J. Hogan
Cast: Jeremy Sumpter, Jason Isaacs, Olivia Williams, Lynn Redgrave, Rachel Hurd-Wood
Studio: 2003 Universal Studios

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About the Reviewer: Kerry Bennett

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