Episode 11: Hook


The recent death of Robin Williams came as a shock to everyone.  It was especially shocking to us, as just days before Williams’ death, we recorded this episode on Hook. Though we couldn’t have known what would happen, we are glad that we had so recently been able to discuss and celebrate Williams through his work in this film.  There is no shortage of material on Williams this week, some of it sincere and meaningful, some of it capitalizing on the inevitable fascination with the details.

Please be assured that this film was chosen weeks ago and we recorded it before (albeit a mere two days) his tragic death.  It is not a crass attempt at clickbaiting, it is a genuinely thoughtful discussion of a film that has meant a lot to us since we first saw it as children.

In fact, this may be a tremendously fitting film to watch as one remembers Williams.  If you were a child who grew up with Hook, it is a great reminder of the impact Williams had on you and will immediately recall just what it is about him that is so touching.  If you haven’t seen it, or weren’t a child in 1991, this movie is a great example of Williams ability to pull ethos and humor from a character that could have been flat and uninspired.

It might be difficult, in hindsight, to see Williams so ably play a character who has lost sight of his happy thoughts, but it is also especially poignant to watch how beautifully Williams performs the scenes where he discovers what makes him happy.  It’s a reminder to all of us that it is never too often, too late, or too trite to think about what makes us happy and to appreciate those people in our lives who make life “the only adventure worth living.”

It struck both of us, that as people paid tribute to Williams, many people our age mentioned Hook as one of the movies that impacted them.  This movie may not have critical acclaim, but there is something about this movie in particular that comforts and enthralls, and we were delighted to revisit it.

As Nate mentions in the beginning of the episode, there may be aspects of our conversation that strike listeners as insensitive, in light of what has occurred this week. In particular, there is a part where we discuss a scene in which Hook threatens suicide and it is played for humor.  In our discussion we are talking only about how the scene works in the film and are in no way making light of suicide or the agony that can lead a person to that point.

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  1. Thank you for all the work that goes into these works. This is an especially touching one considering the outcome of Robin Williams’ life. He was someone who I always tried to see his work. It was wonderful. He will be sorely missed.

  2. Great episode, guys.

    One thought I had about this that didn’t come up, though you were really thorough, is that I wonder if we – those of us watching and enjoying this as children at the time – wanted our parents to be like Peter, and learn to appreciate playing and imagination? I’m sure I wouldn’t have articulated that at the time, but playing through the movie in my mind as you guys talked about it, I can’t imagine that I wouldn’t have wanted my dad to learn the same things Peter did and be changed in similar ways. So I guess I’m wondering if that was an element in my enjoyment of this as a kid, a sort of wish-fulfillment fantasy about parents coming to appreciate childhood. Just a thought.

    Looking forward to Garden State episode, there’s a lot in there to…discuss.

    • You’re probably right, Dan. Though I don’t remember feeling like my dad NEVER played with me, I think any kid would love it if their dad made play a priority and really took off with it. It’s a pretty big change in Peter, to go from the father none of us would want to the father we couldn’t get enough of, and for me as a kid (and even watching it again) it’s a change that I hung with and believe in. I think this movie fulfills so many wishes I had as a kid. My imagination took almost all of its cues from this movie and Calvin and Hobbes.

    • Dan- I think you’re absolutely right. As I was reading through your comment I had my own Peter Banning moment and “remembered” one of those feelings I had watching Hook as a child.

      I remember being proud that my dad always made my own baseball games, which means I was definitely projecting my dad onto Peter Banning. As Ryan said, any kid would love to have more play time with their father, even if they were lucky to have a “Father of the Year” type dad.

  3. Great discussion guys. I really appreciated your thoughts about letting our children learn to discern quality on their own. Otherwise we risk ending up being like this: http://www.theonion.com/articles/cool-dad-raising-daughter-on-media-that-will-put-h,26132/

  4. Great episode and congrats on the iTunes feature!!

    I appreciate the way this episode turned toward the interplay of nostalgia and elements of quality. I think you’re touching on such an elusive and essential part of what it means to enjoy art – the personal piece, the “eye” of the beholder in light of “the collective eye” of all beholders. It’s not simply democratic. There’s value in each opinion and the sum of thoughts on a work… finding space for both is important.

    Anyway, great stuff! As you were discussing some of the landmark movies from your growing-up years (of which I share) I remembered (1977) – a movie I loved and watched many times, but also one that I suspect would come under some harsh criticism for several reasons.

    It’s great to be a kid and it’s good to grow up and not forget what made childhood so great!

    Bangarang! Keep ’em coming, guys.

  5. I’m glad our discussion went there too. Now that I’m teaching high school, I have to exercise the ability to let people like what they like without comment from me, since students are excited about movies, books, and music that I really don’t want to encounter…
    I’ve never seen that version of The Hobbit. I know some people hold those old animated adaptations dear. I’d be interested to see it in light of the Peter Jackson stuff that has so solidified Middle Earth for people…

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