When I first got the idea to blog a trilogy of posts about “CJ defining” movies from 1991 I was actually watching “Fried Green Tomatoes”. As random as it sounds “Fried Green Tomatoes” came very close to being one of The Three. “Tomatoes” had actually been the first of the double header (with T2) on that special flight I blogged about back in October. All kinds of memories flooded back to me when I started to think about 1991. A very special year in movies for this sheltered little missionary kid. It was a moment of passage. It was me literally dipping my toes into the world of adult movies. That feeling of “growing up” makes this last film all the more appropriate. It’s a movie that pretty much defines my childhood, as well as being in and of itself a movie about childhood. Not just about childhood, but about REMEMBERING childhood. The movie, of course, is “Hook”.
Featuring an all-star cast, a huge budget, and the acclaimed director Steven Spielberg at the helm, “Hook” was surprisingly considered a pretty big failure by the industry. It was a sizable hit in 1991, and yet twenty years later, “Hook” is on the very short list of movies that Steven Spielberg seems ashamed of. In a recent Entertainment Weekly article, Spielberg says he feels like the movie fails in the second half when it gets to Neverland. I kind of agree with him when I watch the film now as an adult, but “Hook” was never meant for adults, it was meant for kids. And as a kid, I loved every second of the movie – I couldn’t watch it enough times.
I remember my brother and I going to that movie theater in… I wanna say Admiralty… although Curtis will probably be quick to correct me in the comments… wherever it was was in the same mall where we would go to Dan Ryan’s and watch the World Series. Anyway – we went to this theater – but because we were kids we weren’t going to “Hook”, but to the (super lame) American Tail sequel: Fievel Goes West. I remember going in and seeing the long lines for “Hook”. I remember REALLY wanting to go to that “real” movie instead of our cartoon one. Ok, that’s a bit of revisionist history – I was super excited to see Fievel Goes West – but I’m trying to give you an idea of how bleak and kiddish my movie going existence was.
Finally, after much begging and hoping, we came back for “Hook”. My first REAL movie.
It was great. Peter Pan flying! Swashbuckling pirates and lost boys! Steven Spielberg! Dustin Hoffman’s super over the top performance! Baseball! I loved everything about this movie! I literally saw it a million times – probably 5 or 6 times in theaters and then just over and over on VHS. I still put it on every once and a while or catch it for a bit on TV. There are so many cool little things about it. Phil Collins and Glenn Close have sneaky cameos – Maggie Smith gives us a peak at how she will end up looking twenty years later – and Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman have lots of fun overacting.
But what makes this movie really special for me is the number of really great and life shaping “Hook” memories I have with my dad. Most of those memories are too long, personal, and boring to blog about, but I can’t really talk about the movie “Hook” without talking about my dad. So I thought I should mention it.
“Hook”, when you really come down to it, is a movie about fathers and sons. That’s actually true of all three movies from my 1991 retrospective. When you get past the action and the expensive sets you see that “Hook” is about being a good father. I remember watching “Hook” and realizing that I had the best father! He went to all my baseball games and he was never too busy for me. I’m going to say something really strange now: I almost feel like “Hook” stands as a cinematic testament to how great my dad was. I feel weird saying that about a movie – and about my dad – but it is what it is.
This retrospective trilogy has been about me looking back at the three films from 1991 that most influenced me or inspired me. “Hook” did both. And because of how and when it fell into my life it has become far more than the sum of its parts.
It’s been fun looking back.
Hook. Dir: Steven Spielberg. Released: December 15th, 1991. Amblin Entertainment.
“Peter, you’ve become a pirate.”
“‘Tis true, Peter, time does fly. And so do you, I see.”
“You lewd, crude, rude, bag of pre-chewed food dude.”
“Have to fly, have to fight, have to crow, have to save Maggie, have to save Jack, Hook is back.”
“He was there… and we were there…. and he wouldn’t even try.”
“Oh, there you are Peter…”
“Peter. I swear to you wherever you go, wherever you are, I vow there will always be daggers buried in notes signed James Hook. They will be flung into doors of your children’s children’s children!”
“Jack, my word is my bond.”