I Watched Hook For The First Time To See If It's As Bad As The Internet Makes It Out To Be, And Well...

I've seen a strange thing on the internet as of late: a lot of people are saying that the Steven Spielberg/Robin Williams 1991 flick, Hook, is a bad movie, and that’s just bizarre to me. 

Because growing up, nobody had a bad thing to say about Hook. Not a soul. And, while I didn't see it in its entirety back when it originally came out (only bits and pieces on TV), I always had a soft spot for it, since the general energy surrounding it was always positive.  

That said, perception has apparently changed dramatically. When people rank Steven Spielberg’s movies today, it’s not uncommon to find some people proclaiming that this is one of Spielberg’s worst movies. Not only that, but I’ve heard it argued that adults who still like it today must just be wearing their nostalgia glasses. Well, as somebody who never fully watched it as a child, I thought I’d watch it now to see if it’s truly as bad as some make it out to be, and well…     

Julia Roberts in Hook.

(Image credit: TriStar Pictures)

Hook Is Not A Bad Movie At All 

Okay, calm down, Hook fans, because I’m here to say that, as a whole, this isn’t a bad movie at all. Would I call it one of the Robin Williams' best roles? Well, no, not really. I truly do think that I would have had to have seen it as a child to really have that impression. As an adult with two kids of his own who often feels like the magic that I once experienced as a child is all but gone, I have to say that Hook hit me on a number of levels.

The story concerns a constantly busy lawyer named Peter Banning (Williams) who never finds the time to be with his family. When his children are abducted by Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) Peter learns that he’s actually Peter Pan, and that he abandoned Tinkerbell and the Lost Boys in order to grow up and raise a family. He must return to Neverland in order to rescue his children and to rekindle the child within himself. 

I mean, it sounds simple on paper and to a child, I’m sure a lot of the enjoyment of watching this movie was in seeing Williams flying around, and the Lost Boys shouting “Bangarang!” But, as an adult, it really hit me hard at times. 

When Peter’s wife says that they have “a few, special years” where their children actually want to spend time with them, that utterly shattered me.   

When one of the Lost Boys grabs Williams’ face and says, “Oh, there you are, Peter!” I actually got a bit misty eyed (the wistful music definitely played a part in that), and when Peter finally gets to watch his son play baseball, it made me think about my own children, and just how much I love them. So, for a movie that touched me on such an emotional level, I don’t see how I could ever call it anything but a good film.      

Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman in Hook

(Image credit: TriStar Pictures)

In Fact, There Are Things About It That I Genuinely Love  

A number of years ago, Dustin Hoffman said that he thought that movies were getting worse. And, while I don’t know if I completely agree (I mean, hello, how could that even be possible when Jordan Peele has never made a bad movie), I will say that there is an element of wonder and magic that I feel is sorely missing from most films these days.     

That said, I felt genuine magic when I recently watched Hook. Yes, some might call it “schmaltz,” but I’ll say that it’s rare for me to become enraptured in a story and its characters on such an emotional level. I think a lot of it comes down to the performances, namely from Hoffman and Williams, but also from its supporting cast of Maggie Smith, Julia Roberts, and Bob Hoskins, who commit so fully to this silly world of pirates and magic. 

I also love that there’s a deeper message for adults that has always resided in this movie that I think many never picked up on as kids. I think that this is the true reason why many adults still cherish this movie to this day rather than just wearing their “nostalgia glasses.” I really love that this is a film that tries to warn you that life is short, and that you have to go out of your way to seek out the magic that exists in the world, since it’s so easy to forget. 

Is it a mawkish message? Maybe. But it’s pulled off effectively enough that I definitely didn’t find it cringey. It even reminded me of why I love movies in general…

Dante Basco kneeling, as he presents a sword in Hook.

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

That Said... 

Hook is way too damn long. At 142 minutes, I have to admit that I had to watch it in two sittings, because I kind of started to doze off a little toward the middle. Yes, I was tired (I told you I have two kids, didn’t I?), but it didn’t keep my attention all the way through, as I did go on my phone a few times.  

Also, it needs to be said that I’m still not okay that one of my favorite Filipino actors, Dante Basco, had to die in order to push the film to its climax. Because you know what? Rufio’s death isn’t even dwelled upon all that much before Pan defeats Hook. This is a scene that I had heard so much about from my friends when I was younger, that I couldn’t believe it when I saw the scene in context, because my friends made it seem like it was this big, heartbreaking moment, when in reality, Spielberg didn’t even give the scene enough time to actually be heartbreaking. It feels more like just a waste of what could have been a truly emotional moment.  

The ending could have also been a bit stronger, when Peter finally reconnects with Wendy. I don’t know, for a movie that really took me to tears at points, I just felt like the ending where Peter gives Tootles back his marbles could have been a lot more effective.

Robin Williams in Hook

(Image credit: TriStar Pictures)

Overall, Though, I Actually Think Hook Is One Of Spielberg's Better Movies  

Still and all, I think this is actually one of Spielberg’s better movies. Sure, it’s no Jurassic Park, but I definitely think it’s better than Spielberg’s Jurassic Park: The Lost World, even though I’ve seen this film ranked even higher on some professional lists over Hook. Overall, I’d put Hook quite high if I was personally ranking Spielberg’s films, as it actually made me feel something. And, I’m apparently not alone. I actually tweeted that I was watching it for the first time, and I asked if people still liked the movie. Here's what one person had to say about the film:    

I absolutely adore this movie! It’s campy. It’s fun. Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman are having such a good time in the roles, I can’t help but enjoy it. Is it a cinematic masterpiece? No. Do I care? Also no.

Here's what somebody else said about how Hook hits on a different level for adults:

It's a great movie about loneliness, the disappointment of adult life, and what happens to the dreams we had as children

Some still believe that the critics just didn't get the movie at all: 

It’s great. For a lot of people in my generation (older millennials), it’s the consummate example of a movie the critics got wrong.

So, in the end, I really enjoyed Hook, and don’t think for a second that it’s bad. If, by the end of this article, you’re still hankering for more info about the film, here are 10 behind-the-scenes facts about the Robin Williams movie. Enjoy!  

Rich Knight
Content Producer

Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.