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Peter Pan Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 5+

Stereotypes mar otherwise jaunty Disney adventure classic.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Disney's classic take on the Boy Who Won't Grow Up is alternately a tale of magic and imagination, but occasionally a disturbing, violent story of what happens when kids must fend for themselves. Although it wasn't an issue at the time, there are some racist and sexist themes -- from the "What Makes the Red Man Red" song and the depiction of Big Chief and his tribe to the way all the girls are jealous of each other and Peter's affections. Peter even says "Girls talk too much," and Captain Hook alludes to how "jealous girls" are easy to trick, but if you can discuss these issues afterwards, you can still enjoy the way Wendy reminds all the Lost Boys that they do need mothering and that growing up means taking responsibility.

  • Families can talk about the idea of never growing up. Have you ever thought that you didn't want to grow up? Have you ever thought that you'd like to be a grown up right now? What would you do?
  • Talk about how girls and Indians are portrayed in the movie. What kinds of stereotypes do you recognize? Can you still enjoy the movie even if you're bothered by the stereotypes? How has our society changed since this movie was made?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true1

    Educational value: Wendy will teach kids the value of having parents, even if it seems like the Lost Boys have a lot of fun doing whatever they want. Wendy also proves that sometimes you do have to grow up and mature.

  • message true2

    Messages: There are several obvious themes in the movie, like growing-up, maturing, and taking responsibility. It's also unclear whether Wendy, John, and Michael actually went on an adventure or whether they dreamt their time with Peter Pan. The message is that imagination is important, and that as long as you have an imagination, you'll always have a magical, child-like quality. Stereotypical view of Native Americans, but they are portrayed as Peter's courageous allies, which was controversial when the play was written. Women are catty with one another and Tinker Bell measures her hips and scowls in disgust.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Wendy is a responsible big sister and tries to protect her brothers when they are in Neverland. Despite his motto to never grow up, Peter Pan takes responsibility as well and helps Wendy, John, and Michael return to their parents. Tinker Bell realizes the error of her misguidedly jealousy and saves Peter's life, though for most of the move she is incredibly jealous and mean toward Wendy. The mermaids are sexy and catty.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence and scariness: Captain Hook often points his hook and shoots his gun toward people. A crocodile "tick tocks" menacingly in the water. The Lost Boys are ready to attack Wendy and her brothers with slingshots, stones, and other crude weapons. Peter and Hook sword-fight more than once. Tinker Bell is viciously jealous and tries to hurt Wendy. Hook orders the kids to walk the plank, but they survive. Mr. Snee keeps talking about slitting people's throats. The kids are tied up several times -- first by the Indians and then by Hook's pirates. Hook gives Peter a bomb that explodes but doesn't hurt anyone, because Tink sacrifices herself. An all-out brawl develops between the pirates and the Lost Boys. Hook falls into the mouth of the alligator and repeatedly ends up in its jaws.

  • sex false0

    Sexy stuff: Tinker Bell is jealous of Wendy, who in turn acts jealously when Peter pays attention to Tiger Lily. The mermaids are also jealous of Wendy and push her into the water. Tiger Lily and Peter rub noses, and then she gives him a kiss on the cheek, which makes him blush red.

  • language false1

    Language: Insulting language like "wench," "stupid," "imbecile," "coward," "cod fish," "bloomin'" and "idiot." Characters occasionally make sexist remarks like "Girls talk too much!" and "A jealous female can be tricked into anything." The Indians are referred to (and refer to themselves) as the "Red Man" and act stereotypically. A song calls them "Injuns." At one point they tie up the Lost Boys around a big soup pot, as if they were cannibals. Wendy uses the word "savages" in reference to both the Lost Boys and the tribe.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: The Big Chief passes a peace pipe to the kids, who smoke it and make ugly faces or turn green. Mr. Smee drinks from a liquor jug a couple of times.