Main Cast: Hugh Jackman, Levi Miller

Director: Joe Wright

Parade Float Cuba PD

Despite a few mishaps, it was an elegant and understated move.

We filmed the final sequence for Hooray for Hollywood House Hunters with Vicki Lester earlier this week.  Whilethe results will be fine with some creative editing, the actual filming was not free from incident.  The original concept was for me to tap on the top of a large moving truck as it drove from my old home, Chateau Maine, to my new home, Casa Maine, through the streets of Hollywood and Beverly Hills.  However, I found it rather difficult to keep my balance on the top of the truck when it was in motion and had to keep grabbing at various stray ropes to keep from being flung off into the oleanders, especially on the turns. Then the playback system kept malfunctioning and rather than my carefully orchestrated tracks, I kept getting the aria “I Am the Wife of Mao Tse-Tung” from John Adams’ Nixon in China as arranged for autoharp and sopranino recorder.  It’s for some project of Normy’s involving teaching music to elementary schoolers.  I do wish he would keep his music files off of my traveling laptop.  It would cut down on the errors.   Mr. Cho, my lovely Korean grocer volunteer who was driving, only got lost twice on the way and did a really magnificent five-point turn getting out of that dead end.  I only had to extend the routine a little bit to cover.

We finally arrived at Casa Maine and lovely Leah had done a great job coordinating with my junior publicist Peter Lovejoy finding a stunning corps de ballet of tappers who buck and winged up and down the main staircase while I took a brief moment to recover from a quick case of acute motion sickness with an off camera retching episode in the rose garden.  I was soon back on my feet, made a quick costume change, and buck and winged my way up the stairs with the best of them.  I reached the top step on the last chord, held my final note (taking it up an extra fifth for effect) and struck a classic pose to thunderous applause from the moving company employees who seemed only a little anxious to get started with the boxes. They were slightly delayed when the heel broke on my right shoe causing me to fall down the stairs, taking several of the tap girls with me.  Fortunately, the cameras were no longer rolling and the minor injuries I sustained were easily treated at the after-hours clinic.

After returning home later that night, I found the house swarming with the moving crew so I repaired to a quiet corner where I would not be disturbed and searched through the films available on our streaming channels.  After the events of the day, I was in the mood for something epic, but leavened with gentle humor and a soupcon of overcoming of adversity.  Nothing perfect suggested itself so I settled on last year’s prequel/umpteenth remake of the Peter Pan story, Pan, with Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara and Garrett Hedlund. It seemed like it might be a reasonable alternative so I settled in for a watch.   This version, scripted by Jason Fuchs and directed by Joe Wright, decided to jettison the beloved story of Wendy and her brothers for a new origin story plot, which was not necessarily the wisest of choices.

As the film opens, a young woman (Amanda Seyfried) abandons her baby boy on the doorstep of a home for foundlings in London of an earlier day.  We then fast forward a dozen years and the babe has turned into a perky twelve-year-old Peter (Levi Miller) who is a natural leader among the boys.  One night, an aerial pirate ship captained by the infamous Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) descends from the skies and kidnaps the young boys in a strange Cirque de Soleil ballet number involving a lot of swinging from ropes.  It then escapes under cover of the London Blitz with the kids flying off to Neverland where it descends into a gravel pit full of young men who welcome the pirates back by singing Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit.  There Peter meets a young man named Hook (Garrett Hedlund) who has both of his hands, and teams up with him and with Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara), princess of some sort of Caucasoid tribe that believes in magenta sequins, faux fur and way too much eye makeup.  Will our unlikely trio of heroes defeat the villain?  Will there be a crocodile, mermaids and fairies?  Will there be a giant rousing trampoline fight for no particular reason?  All these questions and more are answered by the end of the film which is wide open for additional prequel sequels.  Fortunately, this film was enough of a financial disaster for Warner Brothers that we will likely be spared these other projects.

I was completely mystified by the film.  It’s tonal shifts, crazy plotting, over the top visuals and general level of insanity made it impossible for me to determine who might actually enjoy it.  The target audience appears to be ten-year-old boys with a Baz Luhrmann fetish.  Now, I am not one to talk as they are one of my most important fan demographic groups but I was able to have them all over for tea one afternoon and still have seating for their mothers and a couple of extra aunties.  There just aren’t enough of them to support a major motion picture.  Director Wright, like Baz, indulges in the more is more theory of film making and every sequence tries to top the previous in assaultive color and hyperkinetic energy.  What he does not have is the visual brilliance of Catherine Martin in terms of art direction and costume design to bring a sense of overall thematic continuity to the proceedings.  The design team on this film seem to be going in two dozen directions at once.  How else to explain Hugh Jackman being costumed like a Velasquez grandee as rethought by Jean-Paul Gaultier?

This leads to the film collapsing into a heap of incomprehensible chase scenes and action set pieces that do nothing to really explain the existence of Peter Pan, Captain Hook or the rest of the familiar crew.  By the end of the film, Hook, who is a heroic figure here, has been given the title Captain in an almost off hand way, but there is no hint of how he and Peter are to become bitter enemies and there is little in the film to suggest the character flaws that might make such a transition possible.  The film could have used a few less acrobatics and a little more introspection.  I shall not be inquiring as to how I might be able to join the cast as Nana in a sequel as with the sloppiness with which this creative team works, she’ll probably turn out to be the Taco Bell Chihuahua and her big dance number will be to Carmen Miranda’s The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat and I’ve already done that one.

Flying ships.  Evil matron.  Pan flute charm.  Multiple fairies.  Gratuitous sparkle beads.  Pirate dance moves.  Mincing Hugh Jackman.  Multiple falls to certain death.  Bewildered audience.

To learn more about Mrs. Norman Maine, see our Movie Rewind introduction, visit her entire back catalog and follow her on Twitter at

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