Sunday, June 20, 2010

I See... the Quintessential Father's Day Movie

When it becomes my turn to create and populate worlds, it will probably look and feel and operate similar to the one we currently occupy with one exception- on Father's Day, all families will be required to huddle around the Blue-Ray DVD player and watch the movie “Hook,” the version with Robin Williams as Peter Pan and Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook. When it was first released in 1991, our kids were young enough to be pirates and lost boys, and I was old enough to be a busy young professional trying to climb the ladder of success while juggling my responsibilities as a father. I credit this movie with keeping me on the straight and narrow path of parenthood.

Robin Williams plays Peter Banning, a ruthless mergers and acquisition corporate lawyer who struggles to find time to pay attention to the real reason why he works- his children. His busy corporate life crowds out anytime he may have to attend his children's activities. It first dawns on him that he is trouble when, on the family's pan-Atlantic flight to visit aunt Wendy in London, his son draws a revealing picture of a plane plunging down in flames and every family member but himself floating safely to the ground with a parachute. Apparently his poor performance as a father does not earn him the luxury of a parachute. The rest of the movie is spent chronicling Peter's efforts to reclaim his kidnapped children from the comically evil Captain Hook. Along the way he learns two important truths- 1) he himself was, in fact, Peter Pan as a a youth, and 2) repenting from the sin of of being a faux father is difficult but rewarding.

In the process of rescuing his children from Captain Hook's clutches, he discovers several terrible truths about his divine role as a father. Woven through the entire span of the movie are both subtle and obvious situations and references to what it means to be both a pathetic and a powerful father.

The climax of the movie is when Peter Banning, consummate corporate lawyer, needs to find his “ happy place” so he can fly and rescue his children from Captain Hook. It is only when it dawns on him that his “happy place” is his children does he gain the power the save them.

Fathers, your children are being held captive by an evil-enriched world poised to destroy them; find your happy place and rescue them.

BTW, our family has memorized to various degrees the following lines and scenes from the movie, all of which in some contextual way drop hints about fatherly roles:

“You know you're not really Peter Pan, don't you? This is only a dream. When you wake up, you'll just be Peter Banning - a cold, selfish man who drinks too much, who's obsessed with success, and runs and hides from his wife and children.” Captain Hook

“Good Mooooooooooooorning Neverland. Here he is, a man so deep, he's almost unfathomable. A man so quick, he's almost fast asleep. I give you, the steel handed stingray, Captain James Hook!!” Smee

“Your children love you, they want to play with you. How long do you think that lasts? Soon Jack may not even want you to come to his games. We have a few special years with our children, when they're the ones that want us around. After that you're going to be running after them for a bit of attention. It's so fast Peter. It's a few years, and it's over. And you are not being careful. And you are missing it.” Moira, Peter's wife

Here is a scene where Captain Hook is trying to convince Peter Panning's son Jack that he can be a better father than Peter can. Busy dads, hold on to your hearts during this exchange- it is really going to hurt:

“[in the Museum where all clocks are destroyed. Hook hands Jack a hammer to destroy his father's watch]
Captain James Hook: You know you want to. Give it a try. Go on.
Jack: This is for... never letting me blow bubbles in my chocolate milk!
[smashes his father's watch]
Captain James Hook: Good form! Bravo!
Smee: Isn't that wonderful?
Jack: This is for never letting me jump on my own bed!
[smashes another clock]
Captain James Hook: Make time stand still, laddie.
Jack: For always making promises and breaking them!
[smashes another clock]
Jack: For never doing anything with me.
[smashes another clock]
Captain James Hook: For a father who's never there, Jack? Jack, for a father who didn't save you on the ship.
Jack: [starts to cry] Who wouldn't save us...
Captain James Hook: Who *couldn’t* save you, Jack.
Jack: [tearfully] Well, he - he wouldn't. And he didn't even try. He was there and we were there and he wouldn't try.
[pulls his cap down as he cries]
Captain James Hook: [pulls his cap up] Jack... he will try. And the question will be: When the time comes, do you want to be saved? Now, don't you answer now. No, no, no, no, no. Now it's time to be whatever you want to be. Put behind you any thoughts of home; that place of broken promises.
Jack: That what?
Captain James Hook: Have I ever made a promise, Jack... I have not kept?
[gives him a baseball]
Captain James Hook: Have I, son?”

Peter fighting with his son.

"Peter Banning: Jack, my word is my bond.
Jack: Yeah, junk bonds!
[he hits the ceiling door in the plane with his ball, and causes the oxygen masks to drop down and scare Peter half to death]
Peter Banning: What in the hell's the matter with you? When are you gonna stop acting like a child?
Jack: [laughs] I am a child.
Peter Banning: Grow up.”

Captain Hook tempting Peter to save his children:

"Captain Hook: I'll make you a deal, Mr. Chairman-of-the-Board. Fly up there and touch the outstretched fingers of your frightened children, and I'll set them free.
Peter Banning: I can't fly!
Captain Hook: Come on, explode out of there! Stop the charade! Free you children!
Maggie, Jack: Help, daddy!”

Captain Hook holding class for Peter's kidnapped kids:

"Captain Hook: You, the cute little urchin in the front row, won't you share your thoughts with the whole class?
Maggie: Yes, I said mommy reads to us every night, because she loves us very much.
Captain Hook: Loves you? Isn't that the, uh, the...
Smee: The L word, Captain.
Captain Hook: Ooh, yes. No, child, I mother wants to read to you every night in order to stupefy to sleep, so that she and daddy could sit down for three measly minutes without you. And you mindless, inexhaustible, unstoppable, repetitive, and nagging demands: He took my toy! She hit my bear! I want a potty! I want a cookie! I want to stay up! I want, I want, I want, me, me, me, me, mine, mine, mine, mine, now, now, now!
[inhales deeply]
Captain Hook: Can't you understand, child? They tell you stories to shut you up.
Smee: And conk you out.
Maggie: That's not true, Jack!
[to Hook]
Maggie: You're a liar!
Captain Hook: [laughs] Lie? Me? Never.
[inhales deeply again]
Captain Hook: The truth is far too much fun.”


  1. Wish you happy Father's day 2010 and also for all my friends.

  2. wow....I'm watching that movie right now... And I just randomly came across your blog...Good post though.

  3. Great minds are thinking alike! I hope you enjoyed the movie!