Caleb’s review published on Letterboxd:
As a kid, I’ve seen this a number of times. I’d watch all things Peter Pan back then, but there was nothing better than to watch Robin Williams receive a happy thought and fly for the first time. Absolutely nothing. But I want to discuss one thing before diving into this films.
It has been difficult to watch Robin Williams in anything ever since he passed on. He was a gigantic part of my childhood. Jumanji, Flubber, Mrs. Doubtfire, and his television appearances made out a big part of my childhood. I’d followed his career as I understood his gift to the world; laughter. There was nothing he couldn’t do to put a smile on my face. Watching this was very difficult, I’ll admit. It was difficult to accept the fact that Williams has passed on, and much of what he has given us will remain in memory. Though, in the end, I remembered that Williams will always be there, for he has contributed much to comedy and cinema. That way, he can never be forgotten. I suppose it is a step forward for me, and I can begin to remember his greatness by revisiting his films for a time. Anyways, so just wanted to get that out there. I’m just glad to have finally revisited Robin Williams years after his passing. It was tough but it was worth it.
As for the film, I had never known this being critically reviled, and even this has a lukewarm reception among others who have seen this, per the ratings out in the internet. I had only learned of the fact mere years ago, and I had been pining for a revisit since then. I’ll admit nostalgia has merit, for this film gave me happiness and escapism, exactly what the classic tale is intended to do. It’s easy to see why Spielberg himself was dissatisfied with this film, and I can most certainly see how he can do better if he were to have a do-over, especially in tone. That said, this film is a lot of fun. Spielberg’s Neverland sets are excessive but it’s nicely contrasted with the real world. Robin Williams turns in a good, if a bit uneven performance as Peter Pan. It’s not to say he wasn’t good, but he didn’t exactly sell me on the part. Even then, I enjoyed Williams in the role, and more than anything, I was glad to see him act again, and remember why he mattered. Dustin Hoffman is easily the best part of the film. He’s perfectly eccentric as Captain Hook. Bob Hoskins is a delight as Smee. If anything, watch this film for Hook and Smee. They’re a delightful pair. The child actors, namely the Lost Boys, are all wonderful. They carry most of the heart in the film. Though, Charlie Korsmo, who played the role of Jack, seemed like he stared at a ghost the whole time he was onscreen so I’m not sure what to take away from that performance.
The only real con in this is that it kind of runs a bit long. It’s 142 minutes, which clocks at 2 hours and 22 minutes. It did feel like it plodded in pace at times, but it wasn’t a chore. Just uneven, that’s all.
All in all, this is an underrated and fun Spielberg to watch. Even at his lowest point, Spielberg always manages to give us amazing moments in much of his filmography, and this is no different. Definitely recommend this.