Since his first appearance in 1902, Peter Pan has been a symbol of childhood innocence and imagination for multiple generations and now he’s back in Disney’s Peter Pan & Wendy.
Unlike earlier movies this latest release isn’t about “the boy who’ll never grow up”, it’s about the girl who befriends him and the adventures they go on in defiance of the burdens of adult life.
Wendy Darling (Ever Anderson) doesn’t want to go to boarding school. Her mother insists it’s the only way for her to become the kind of woman who’ll have success later in life, but Wendy doesn’t see the need for the restriction and disagrees with her mum about what kind of woman she wants to grow into.
Wendy’s offered an escape when the magical fairy Tinkerbell (Yara Shahidi) appears in her dreams and sends her to the enchanting world of Neverland, where she meets Peter and battles the evil pirate Captain Cook (Jude Law).
In an of itself, Peter Pan & Wendy isn’t bad: it’s simple, it’s fun, Jude Law seems to be having a ball as the main man giving credibility to the whole show and the vast landscapes allow space for the character’s imaginations to breathe.
What Peter Pan & Wendy lacks though, is the energy and spirit of a truly magical young-adult adventure.
For people that grew up in the Robin Williams Hook era or saw Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland, Peter Pan & Wendy will never come out on top of the Peter Pan movie pile, but for a fresh generation unaware of the gold that’s come before there’s a youthful relatability that’ll keep them watching.
Peter Pan & Wendy drives at the age-old dilemma of how our progression away from childhood affects us as adults: we’re not supposed to defy maturity, but how do we retain a sense of wonder as we become more familiar with the world?
Peter Pan & Wendy drives at the age-old dilemma of how our progression away from childhood affects us as adults: we’re not supposed to defy maturity, but how do we retain a sense of wonder…
The answer the movie provides is in our ability to stay curious and imaginative. To not live in line with expectation and “supposed tos” but rather with the fire of inspiration and excitement.
It’s a proposition that’s all well and good in theory, but the difficulty of fully subscribing to Peter Pan & Wendy’s logic is that you’ll always arrive at adulthood disillusioned.
Holding on to curiosity and looking at life with possibility is healthy, but believing we should have that at the exclusion of all else is a surefire way to feel unsatisfied.
Life will never be without responsibility and parameters. The beauty of adulthood though, is that you’ve got more resources, life experience and independent creativity to bring to the ideas of your youth. What’s more, you’ve likely formed a community that can support you along the way.
Peter Pan & Wendy fits well in the slate of Disney offerings and proves a useful prompt to consider why we have such a fascination with childhood.
Peter Pan & Wendy is streaming on Disney+ now.