Another one for the pile of mediocre whimsy nostalgic young adults will fawn for if they haven’t seen anything outside of their comfort zone, Peter Pan is a regressive and bland affair. Disney at the height of their powers is something audiences should be in awe of, not bored to tears by. Unfortunately, it becomes clearer and clearer that these 1950s glory days were a mere twinkle in the eye for those wistful many. The combined efforts of Hamilton Luske, Wilfred Jackson, and Clyde Geronimi’s direction are far from ideal. Whisking us away to Neverland, the fictional island, not the Michael Jackson ranch, Peter Pan relies heavily on its crowd of imaginative kids and wistful adults.
With the leading voice cast of Bobby Driscoll and Hans Conried, we’re delighted by underwhelming vocals mixing with a cavalcade of expected narrative spells. Horridly boring is the only way to summarise this one, a dense film that doesn’t offer much in its thankfully short running time. Peter Pan offers no new notions of whimsy, its only reason for existing is to peddle merchandise and procure a legion of giddy fans obsessed and overwhelmed with Mickey Mouse memorabilia. Rather sickening for sure, but you’d think Pan, Wendy and this swashbuckling nonsense would at least have some heart to it. Instead, we’re offered something that checks the boxes, makes the usual rounds, and does absolutely nothing more than that.
What little comfort offered by Peter Pan can be found in the steadfast work provided to us by Disney’s animation core. Regardless of story quality or narrative consistency, we can always lean back and revel in the engaging style of cartoonish charm and whimsy. It’s light, fluffy, and never escapes the rather redundant themes of its story. Captain Hook is at least somewhat interesting, an iconic villain that does have his fair share of engaging scenes. Nothing spectacular or anything memorable, but at least there are efforts made to bring some rather fluid comedy, albeit dated and poor.
With few saving graces between the short running time and capable animation style, this collaboration of directors can bring nothing but inarticulate nonsense. Simplistic, messy and not at all as magical as you’d be hoping for from a film highly regarded by those looking back on their childhoods with an adoration and longing to return. Surely there are better memories to cling to than owning Peter Pan on VHS? A truly tragic waste if not. Bland adaptations are no stranger to the powerhouse of the Disney titans, but this one just sits atop its stale recollections and flimsy charms, hoping something will come from the abyss of bland, motionless nonsense.