Didn’t Disney release Peter Pan Special Edition on a self-proclaimed ”limited issue” DVD only two years ago? Ah, but that was before the mercenary sequel ”Return to Never Land” was set to hit theaters, and think of the cross-promotional plugs those relentless marketeers might have missed making if they didn’t now rerelease the original on DVD with lots of extras — most of which, annoyingly, were included on a 1998 laserdisc edition but not on the 1999 DVD. And you thought Captain Hook played hardball.
Still, promotional annoyances aside, some goodies here certainly deserve kudos. The one brand-new feature is the best: a commentary that includes elderly animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston illuminating how they teamed up to draw such hilarious pusses on villainous Hook (voiced by Hans Conried) and his drunken sidekick Smee (Bill Thompson) — and how they campaigned to get what they thought were the story’s juiciest drawing assignments. There’s much less magical pixie dust in a passable read-along storybook for kids, and two making-of featurettes that tend toward infomerciality.
In fact, if you can find the original DVD edition cheaper on eBay, you might do fine to settle for it, since the transfer looks identical — and brings no additional clarity to such brilliantly animated set pieces as Peter’s flight over London (no CG, yet so 3-D!) and Hook’s violent encounters with a ticktock crocodile. The supplement we’d most want to see? Animation of the lost boys flying to Disney’s video-marketing department and forcing them all to declare, as Hook does to Peter, ”I’m a codfish!”