Nothing against Disney, but I find it sad that Return to Never Land ranks among the best movies released in 2002 thus far. Every year I hope Hollywood will break tradition and release quality movies during the first few months of the new year. But every year, January and February roll around, and every year, the same putrid junk finds a home at the multiplexes.
This year is no exception. Given the competition, Return to Never Land, sequel to the classic Peter Pan, is more worthy of your precious time than most of what's showing on the big screen this month.
Years have passed since the original Peter Pan took place. Wendy is now an adult and has two children and a husband. As the movie opens, Wendy's husband is called to war. Despite her youth, Wendy's oldest daughter, Jane, adapts to the war and becomes a young adult. She forgets her mother's magical stories of Peter Pan and Never Land. She even insults her younger sibling for believing in such nonsense.
But soon enough, Captain Hook appears and steals Jane right from her own bedroom. He sails her to Never Land on his flying ship, thinking she's Wendy, whom he can use as bait for Pan. When Peter Pan rescues her, however, he immediately realizes this isn't his old friend, but he befriends her nonetheless. But Jane doesn't welcome Pan's childish games, she just wants to get home and set things right with her family, since she pitched a fight before the kidnapping took place.
It's unique for a Disney cartoon to contain so few scenes in which the characters sing. Songs appear more often on the film's soundtrack as commentaries or parallels to the characters' thoughts. More importantly than music, however, Return to Never Land has a lot of fun, and therefore, so do we.
There's a lot of funny material here, too. Captain Hook is a riot. During a scene in which he receives a massage from his assistant Smee, both the humorous dialogue and zany actions warrant heavy laughs. Quite frankly, it's hilarious compared to junk like Slackers.
Return to Never Land is not a Disney masterpiece--they never are anymore. But it does know how to entertain kids (and kids at heart). It delivers laughs, spirit, energy, and shows us that anything is possible through faith, trust, and, of course, a little pixie dust.
On DVD, Return to Never Land proves a compelling disc, with excellent production values and superb surround sound (THX-certified). Extras include deleted scenes and a kid's game.
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Disney shoots down the competition.