Owen Gleiberman
December 22, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

Peter Pan

Current Status
In Season

We gave it a B

Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up, could be the mascot for our entire commodified kiddie culture. The era is now almost too synched to him: When he shows up in the sparkly new CGI-happy version of Peter Pan, sneaking and flying and clowning around, he’s immersed in fun, but no more so than your average 11-year-old (or 25-year-old) Game Boy junkie.

Jeremy Sumpter, as Peter, has eyebrows that tilt down with a hint of wry devilry, and Rachel Hurd-Wood, with her ruby mouth parting into the most delicate of smiles, makes Wendy a rare vision of sophisticated innocence; she seems to have walked right out of the 19th century. The director, P.J. Hogan, celebrates Peter’s elfin derring-do yet recognizes that there’s something a bit lonely about it.

”Peter Pan” is a bright, whirling pinwheel of a movie that tosses around special effects like confetti, but the techno magic is graced with a touch of sensuality. Tinker Bell, played by ”Swimming Pool”’s Ludivine Sagnier, glows like a lava lamp as she leaves her trail of glitter, and the clouds over Neverland have a rosy impressionist lushness. (You can also bounce around on them.) Jason Isaacs, looking like a debauched Brit demon-metal rock star, plays Hook with just enough nasty smolder to suggest that there’s something a tad unseemly in his fixation on Peter and Wendy. If anything gets lost here, it’s the appeal of the Lost Boys — and, for that matter, of Neverland, which looks like the sort of plastic stage-set forest Disney once used as a backdrop in the days of movies like ”The Gnome-Mobile.”

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