Notes from the back row 

It’s true, I’ll admit, that the first time you take a sweet/cool/sexy girl to a movie you sometimes end up liking the flick more than if you’d gone with, say, your snot-nosed little cousin. Regardless, I’m stoked on Peter Pan . Directed by Australian P.J Hogan and sticking to the themes of JM Barrie’s original story, this live-action version (with fantastic animated backgrounds) is the most bad-ass Pan movie yet.

I’m talking about malnourished pirates that kick young children in the face and smash their heads on the ship’s deck. Which is exactly what pirates are supposed to do, in kid’s minds anyhow. Or Captain Hook, with multiple hook attachments, a true fiend who shoots his subordinates in the head for fun, yet really just feels old and alone. And the truest of all pirate conventions – the plank. It’s not a pirate movie if someone doesn’t walk the plank. The plank rules.

Add to that all kinds of pre-pubescent sexual tension between Peter Pan and Wendy Darling, throw in a child wedding to an Indian princess, some killer funny wild boys and you’ve got my kind of kid’s movie. Oh yeah baby, this one has it all: fishy evil mermaids who’d rather drag you to the bottom to drown than comb their hair and sing sappy songs. Double-crossing Tinkerbell, the jealous little bitch, who turns traitor when she realizes Pan is going to tap Wendy and not her, then dies and is almost buried in the back yard like a common household pet. I laughed out loud, many times.

Of course, Peter Pan is still a children’s movie. Still a love story that highlights the joys of childhood and the eventual pain of leaving it all behind and that’s all great and dandy, but the children of today need more than fluffy clouds and sing-songs to entertain them. They need flying sword fights with super choreographed fight sequences, colour-saturated landscapes and sex and violence and one-liners so dumb they work. Peter Pan delivers all, teaching us that children are just little adults, with small but purer minds that for some reason find it impossible to be quiet in a movie theatre.

And every epic children’s movie needs a real trippy sequence for the stoners, in Pan it’s when the kids first fly off to Never Never Land, tweaked on fairy dust. Second to the right and straight on till morning indeed. Dust or not, it’s a good story. Always has been.

Speaking of stories, as mentioned last week Tim Burton’s Big Fish opens on Friday. It’s a touching movie about the distance between an old storyteller on his deathbed and his punk son who refuses to believe dad’s tall tales because he’s the kind of guy who lives for the facts. Hunter Thompson taught us long ago that it’s okay to lie if it better illustrates the point you’re trying to make. That the goal of fiction and non-fiction is to shine new light on life and the human condition and if blending the two disciplines is the best way to accomplish that, then do it. It’s a pretty simple concept and storytelling pro Tim Burton, with an impressive track record ( Batman, Sleepy Hollow, Edward Scissorhands, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure ), should handle it adeptly.

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