In early 20th-century London, Wendy Darling (Rachel Hurd-Wood) lives with her parents, younger brothers John (Harry Newell) and Michael (Freddie Popplewell), and their ‘nanny’, a St Bernard Dog who wears a headdress. Wendy has a gift for storytelling and enthrals her brothers with fairy stories and tales of pirates.
Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumpter) is an unseen visitor at these storytelling sessions, until one day he appears and invites Wendy to Neverland, a fantastic place where good and evil are constantly at odds. Wendy wants to go but not without her brothers, so Peter Pan teaches the 3 children to fly and away they go to Neverland.
Peter Pan introduces Wendy to the Lost Boys, who have no mother. The Lost Boys immediately want to adopt Wendy as their mother, so they build a house for her and love to listen to her stories.
Wicked Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs) and his cutthroat pirates are responsible for the evil in Neverland. Pirates have always fascinated Wendy and her brothers, and now they’re caught up in their own swashbuckling pirate adventure. Peter Pan cut off Captain Hook’s right hand in the past, and now Hook and Peter Pan are sworn enemies. Hook and his crew often outnumber Peter Pan and friends, but Peter has magic on his side, including fairy Tinkerbell (Ludivine Sagnier), who’s quite often a bad fairy. At times it seems as if all is lost, but good wins in the end.
Wendy and her brothers must decide whether to stay in magical Neverland or return home to their parents.
Good versus evil; adventure; fantasy; pirates
Peter Pan has a lot of violence, some of it comic. For example:
- The dog slides across the bank floor, collecting Wendy and the post boy. They all crash into the bank managers.
- Tinkerbell attacks Wendy and pulls her hair.
- Peter Pan throws Tinkerbell away.
- Michael tries to fly and crashes onto the floor.
- A pirate shoots at a parrot.
- Pirates fire cannons into the clouds where the children are.
- Hook stabs a pirate with his hook.
- Tinkerbell puts fairy dust into a boy’s eyes, blinding him.
- Tinkerbell gives the Lost Boys the wrong message to shoot at the children. Wendy falls to the ground, unconscious.
- Peter Pan threatens to kill boys with a sword.
- Hook threatens Tiger Lily with his hook to her throat.
- Michael, John and Tiger Lily are tied up with their hands above their heads and their mouths gagged. They’re lowered into water.
- Hook shoots a pirate, who falls into the water.
- Hook aims a rifle at Peter Pan but misses.
- Hook and Peter Pan have several sword fights.
- A pirate attacks Wendy, who fights back with a sword.
- Michael hits a pirate in the groin.
- Peter Pan is trapped in a net, which drops into the water.
- Hook is about to cut Peter Pan’s throat when a huge crocodile attacks Hook.
- Tinkerbell gets shut in a drawer and locked in a cupboard.
- Hook tries to stab Peter Pan with his claw.
- Hook puts poison in Peter Pan’s drink. Tinkerbell drinks it instead and falls to the ground, dead.
- Pirates capture Wendy. They tie her up with rope. Hook threatens her with a blade and makes her walk the plank.
- Hook picks up John with his hook and kicks him.
- Hook shoots some pirates.
- Two pirates stab each other.
- Hook strikes Peter Pan, who falls on to the deck. Hook has Peter by the throat, and Peter has blood on his face. Peter almost dies.
- Peter Pan comes back to life with great energy and blasts everyone off the ship.
- The crocodile swallows Hook.
There are no sexual references in Peter Pan.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Peter Pan shows some use of substances. For example:
- When the pirates capture Wendy, they offer her muscat or rum to drink and a box of cigars.
- Hook drinks something in a goblet.
Nudity and sexual activity
Peter Pan has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- When Michael and John are hanging upside down, their bare buttocks are exposed.
- Peter Pan and Wendy kiss, as do Michael and Tiger Lily. It seems odd that children should be acting out adult concepts.
There’s no product placement in Peter Pan.
There’s no coarse language in Peter Pan.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Peter Pan (2003) is a celebration of childhood, fantasy, imagination and the desire to never grow old. It’s also a nuanced exploration of good versus evil. Although ‘good’ eventually wins, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell can be quite bad at times. After all, Peter is responsible for chopping off Hook’s arm and feeding it to the crocodiles. It’s well acted and has a lot of humour, which lightens the darker side of the story
Peter Pan is likely to entertain pre-teens, teenagers and adults, but it does have some violence and realistic graphic effects. For these reasons, it isn’t suitable for children under 8 years, and we recommend parental guidance for children aged up to 13 years.
The main messages from Peter Pan are about encouraging fantasy, imagination and children’s sense of awe and wonder, while appreciating the complexity of good and evil.
Values in Peter Pan that you could reinforce with your children include bravery and loyalty.
Peter Pan could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the real-life consequences of things like using violence to sort out conflict and problems.