In this Peter Pan and Wendy parent review, you’ll learn all about why this movie was truly lackluster. Unlike straight to video movies of the past, like Cinderella II: Dreams Come True or Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, Peter Pan and Wendy was not complete dumpster fire. It just lacked anything memorable and felt bored and tired from the start.
It’s so bland, in fact, I’m struggling to even come up with snarky stuff to say about it.
What's in this review
What is Peter Pan and Wendy?
To put it in one sentence, Peter Pan and Wendy is the latest – of several I might add – live action retellings of the adventures of Peter Pan and Wendy. Unlike Hook, Once Upon a Time, and other adaptations, this one stuck pretty close to Disney’s original animated Peter Pan, but this time they put more emphasis on Wendy than Pan.
They also took out the racist depictions of Native Americans from the 1953 animated version. Instead, they made Tiger Lily into a competent character who typically comes to Pan’s rescue when he’s being fool hardy and reckless.
Otherwise, the story follows Peter Pan as he brings Wendy and her brothers off to Neverland where kids never grow up and Pan constantly battles his nemesis Captain Hook with the help of the Lost Boys (and Girls in this rendition).
They also managed to make the entire thing feel emotionless, unoriginal, and stale. It’s quite an achievement about a land where imagination should run wild. Instead, the whole atmosphere is that of the imagination of a severely depressed adult who’s never actually around kids.
What do parents need to know about Peter Pan and Wendy?
If I was a legitimate, pompous review site like Common Sense Media, I might tell you some nonsense about “scary” or suspenseful scenes with Hook or the crocodile, threats to execute children, and delving into the dark/sad backstory of Hook, Pan, and Wendy’s reluctance to grow the hell up.
Yeah, I’m not that site and your kids will probably be fine unless you keep them safely sheltered in some bubble wrap. In which case, Bluey might be more their speed.
Here’s what you can keep in mind if you are actually down to earth:
- I fell asleep the first time watching the movie. As noted above, it is pretty bland and boring. None of the characters were particularly interesting or passionate, the scenery was bleak, and the whole atmosphere depressing. But, I will say, it was a welcome nap.
- Just like with Ariel, Disney replaced their Peter Pan character who suffered from Gingervitis with one who does not have the fictious affliction. Though this is not particularly fair to this soul sucking subsection of the population, it will help keep your children safe – souls intact at least – as they watch Peter Pan and Wendy.
- The movie adds a tragic backstory to Pan and Hook. It’s not particularly memorable. Some thing like they were friends and then Hook wanted to find his mother or something. I don’t know, sort of lost interest when watching this part, but it was supposed to be meaningful.
- Though I don’t dislike Jude Law, he was the last person I would have thought to cast for Hook. Hook needed to be flamboyant, exuberant, and just full of energy. Law was, well, boring. I would have cast Jonathan Groff (Kristoff from Frozen), Johnny Depp, or anyone who could pull off a character that should have a lot of personality.
What’s the story?
In this umpteenth retelling of Peter Pan, the focus is on Wendy Darling. The story starts similarly to the animated and every other version out there, but they added a plot point that Wendy was not happy about going off to boarding school the next day.
Luckily for her, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell show up to take her and her brothers away to Neverland. Once there, the group comes into conflict with the lackluster Captain Hook who tries to kill them all.
They then need to rescue the children and conflict ensues. The movie then ends with resolutions.
It was riveting.
What changed between the animated Peter Pan and Peter Pan and Wendy?
Not surprisingly, Disney made several changes to their live action remake of Peter Pan. Some of them you might suspect, others may surprise you. Here’s many of the changes:
- The focus and main character is Wendy. There is an emphasis on girl power in the movie that, sadly, feels forced in spots and may not connect well with target audiences based on my case study of my daughter who didn’t really show interest in Wendy at all.
- Wendy is not maternal at all. She comes across as more of a warrior than mother.
- Peter and Wendy fight frequently and only sort of become friends at the very end with no real explanation as to why.
- Emphasis is on the importance of mothers in a person’s life.
- Hook was once a Lost Boy and friends with Pan. He also has a tragic backstory.
- Tiger Lily does not have a tribe. The racist imagery was removed but not replaced. She is also, like Wendy, a more competent warrior.
- Tinker Bell is not a jealous, feisty fairy. Instead, she presents as more of the leader of Pan and develops a healthy relationship with Wendy.
- The Lost Boys are the Lost Boys with Girls. I am really confused why they didn’t just change the name to Lost Children or Ones or something.
- The ending is different.
- The crocodile is huge and resembles more of a creature-feature monster.
- Peter is not a creepy kid suffering from Gingervitus. Tinker Bell is neither blonde nor white.
- Peter has a sword not a dagger.
How you feel about these changes may influence whether you like the movie. I judge the movie based on what was presented, not what was in the original. I last watched the animated version over 20 years ago and could care less if I ever watch again.
For extra parent credit, you can compare and contrast the animated version with the live action remake. Sounds like a lot of fun that I don’t personally recommend, but if that floats your nerdy boat, go for it.
You can also let me know in the comments below if I missed any important or major changes between the movies.
Where to watch Peter Pan and Wendy?
Peter Pan and Wendy came to Disney Plus on April 28, 2023. You can continue to watch it, if you desire, on Disney Plus.
Eventually, you may be able to watch on Amazon or other streaming services, but for not now, it is only on Disney Plus.
If you are planning your time, Peter Pan and Wendy comes in at 1 hour and 46 minutes run time. This may be an amazing experience for you. Either you will love it or fall asleep which is a win no matter how you slice it as a parent.
Peter Pan and Wendy: Parent Review
Movie title: Peter Pan and Wendy
Movie description: In the retelling of Disney's animated classic Peter Pan, Wendy Darling joins Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and her brothers on a lackluster adventure in Neverland.
Date published: April 28, 2023
Country: United States
Duration: 1 hour 46 minutes
Director(s): David Lowery
Actor(s): Alexander Molony - Peter Pan, Ever Anderson - Wendy Darling, Jude Law - Captain Hook, Alyssa Wapanatâhk - Tiger Lily, Jim Gaffigan - Smee, Joshua Pickering - John Darling, Jacobi Jupe - Michael Darling, Molly Parker - Mrs. Darling, Alan Tudyk - Mr. Darling, Yara Shahidi - Tinker Bell, Florence Bensberg - Curly, Sebastian Billingsley-Rodriguez - Nibs, Noah Matthews Matofsky - Slightly, Caelan Edie - Tootles, Kelsey Yates - Twin 1, Skyler Yates - Twin 2, Diana Tsoy - Birdie, Felix de Sousa - Bellweather, John DeSantis - Bill Jukes, Garfield Wilson - Gurley, Ian Tracey - Sallyport, Mark Acheson - Old Clemson, Jesse James Pierce - Skylight, Gemita Samarra - Mermaid,
User Review( vote)
As I keep mentioning, there was nothing really wrong with Peter Pan and Wendy that I can tear apart in this parent review of the straight to streaming movie. This is a far cry from other straight to streaming remakes, like Pinocchio, that relied on a bizarrely accented Tom Hanks to deliver one of the strangest (and worst) performances he has ever made.
Haters – and there are plenty of them – tear the film apart for a variety of similar reasons, most noting things like:
- Tiger Lily didn’t have a tribe and was out of place
- changing Wendy’s character from being motherly to badass heroine doesn’t jive with their fragile sensitivities
- changing the Lost Boys to Lost Boys with Girls (admittedly odd that they didn’t just change the name to Lost Children or something)
- Tinkerbell is no longer a jealous, feisty character who sabotages and fights against Wendy
- race changes in Tinkerbelle and Peter Pan
- Tinkerbell actually spoke and had a girl-positive message
More genuine criticism of the film centers more on aspects like:
- the film didn’t flesh out more of the story, subplots, and backgrounds of the characters
- a lot of the characters were flat and emotionless
- Peter Pan came across as unlikeable and dull rather than being a likeable character with obvious flaws
- Captain Hook got a sad back story and also lacked charisma and energy
- Neverland appeared very dark and gloomy, not really a fanciful magic world
While some parents and others loved the reimagining remake, ultimately it was just sort of meh all around. The acting was flat with little emotion in the dialogue. Honestly, Tinker Bell expressed more emotions without speaking for most of the film than the actors and actresses did throughout the rest of the movie.
The backstory for Hook and Pan felt limited. Sure, it was supposed to make Hook sympathetic, but where I agree with some critics, not all villains need a tragic back story to relate to. Some just need to be straight evil, especially in what should be a lighthearted, fun movie with childhood simplicity of good vs evil.
That’s not to say Disney adding backstories to its live action movies is always bad. The live action Beauty and the Beast gave the Beast a much more complex backstory needed for the story. His childhood abuse and isolation explains how he became who he was in a meaningful way and helped Belle connect with him.
They also made him more of her equal. He was well-educated, had visited other parts of the world, and seemed worldly in a way that Belle would appreciate based on her mocking song of the towns people in the opening act.
For the villain, they made Gaston more believable overall and gave him a limited backstory (war vet) that didn’t try to redeem him but rather explain his actions a bit better. I always took it as the guy Vietnam vets talk about sometimes. The one who would revel in killing and seemed to lose most of what humanity they had. And for Gaston, it made sense.
With Peter Pan and Wendy, we learn that Hook was once a Lost Boy who missed his mommy and went back to find her after it was too late. And as a result, Pan and he were friends who turned into enemies.
Now, you may disagree – and that’s fine if you want to be wrong – but Hook is one of those characters that does not need to be sympathetic. He can just be a bad dude who wants to hurt Lost Boys and kill Peter Pan but never quite succeeds.
He can be flamboyant, arrogant, and full of energy equal to Peter Pan’s own vigor.
Instead, Peter Pan and Wendy shows a bland, tired feeling, and boring relationship between Pan and Hook.
Also, the Lost Children (or Boys) and Pan lack the whimsical, fun nature you’d expect. Their hideout is dank and depressing and nothing like you’d expect a group of children would want to live in, much less go near.
I really want to know who came up with the design for it. Did they think a hideout that has all the creepy vibes of It’s lair made any sense at all for young children?
My own children hardly seemed inspired by this movie either. Usually, my daughter will reenact anything she engages with. She watched the movie. She said she enjoyed it. Since her first viewing, she has not asked to watch it again. She also doesn’t pretend to fly around or act like Wendy.
I applaud the addition of diversity, trying to give Wendy a more modern spin, casting their first actor with Downs Syndrome, and eliminating the racist imagery. But why not do all that while creating a more whimsical movie? The darker, Tim Burton-vibe of the movie made everything look like a person going through a dark phase of a midlife crisis wrote and directed it, and that just doesn’t work great for children.
Wendy has a modern spin and not a stereotypical female role.
Racist imagery and songs were removed.
The cast was diverse.
The acting and writing was flat and generally lacking.
The scenery was dark and depressing instead of brighter and more whimsical that you’d think children would imagine up to be Neverland.
Peter Pan came across as unlikeable and incompetent. Why not make him more Wendy’s equal and keep his more carefree, forever young attitude?
Hook got a tragic backstory instead of being simply evil for evil’s sake. Why not just have a character that people love to hate?