A review of  Return to Never Land” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: **

Rating: G for good for all ages

Run Time: 1 hour, 12 minutes

 

Hope springs eternal at the second star to the right and straight on till morning, where the dream of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and the Lost Boys has enchanted decades of children who firmly believe in the power of faith, trust, and pixie-dust. 

Fast forward to a grown-up Wendy Darling, mother of 12-year old Jane (voice of Harriet Owen) and young son Danny. With London under the siege of the Blitzkrieg and a husband at the front, it’s a struggle to put on a happy face.  Even Jane has succumbed to the pressures of wartime England – casting aside her childhood fantasies for the more practical pursuits of staying alive and fed. 

Captain Hook changes all that by kidnapping Jane in order to use her as a pawn to capture his archrival, the sprightly Peter Pan (voice of Blayne Weaver).  Jane, who has no patience for nonsensical poppycock, is enchanted by Pan and his alluring tiny sidekick Tinkerbell.  But she remains a steadfast non-believer, causing Tinkerbell to lose her magical glow and allowing Hook the “in” he needs to destroy Pan.

This is a tired re-tread of Disney’s well-crafted 1953 cartoon version of “Peter Pan”. A fresh face, courtesy of modern animation techniques, does little to disguise the direct-to-video sensibility of this juvenile snoozer.  Jane’s youthful skepticism is a nice foil to Pan’s eternal childish optimism, and Tinkerbell’s womanly wiles (an intriguing adult sidebar) are subtly  charming.  But the story lacks punch for anyone who’s grown beyond the 7-and-under set.  Little folk may succumb to the spunky antics of the Lost Boys and Hook and his henchmen, but “Shrek” this is not.