When the news of that beloved actor/comedian Robin Williams had passed away at 63 in an apparent suicide, I felt as if part of my childhood had died.
I grew up watching Williams’ films–Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society, Jumanji, Mrs. Doubtfire, Aladdin, etc. He’s a legend.
Feeling sentimental, I decided to watch the Peter Pan remake “Hook” on Netflix last night.
Watching the film as an adult, it made me realize that it’s actually sort of a Wall Street movie. Maybe it’s just the financial journalist in me.
Either way, the film has a simple, important message that’s applicable to Wall Street today – spend time with your kids.
In the film Robin Williams plays Peter Pan, but he’s not a boy in Never-Neverland, he’s all grown up. He’s now Peter Banning–an overweight, middle-aged, hot-shot M&A attorney—and he’s forgotten his own identity of the kid who used to fight Captain Hook.
Williams’ grown-up character is attached to his cellphone. He’s constantly discussing deals. He hardly pays attention to his own children–Maggie and Jack. The movie opens with him getting distracted at his daughter’s school play and missing his son’s baseball game.
It’s close to Christmas, so the Banning family flies to London to visit Great Grandma Wendy Darling, the grandmother of Banning’s wife Moira. Banning hasn’t visited Wendy in ten years.
While at Wendy’s house, Williams’ character freaks out about a $5 billion deal that could fall through. His kids are playing in the background. While on the call, Banning says, “Will someone just shoot me?” and his son responds playfully making a gun gesture with his hands, “Bang, bang!”
Banning lashes out.
“Will everyone just shut up! And leave me alone for one moment?! Moira, get them out of here, will you? I’m on the phone call of my life!”
Wendy later asks Peter about his job.
“I am still in mergers & acquisitions…,” he began to explain.
His son Jack interrupted, “Any resistance, and he blows them out of the water!”
“So, Peter, you’ve become a pirate,” Wendy said.
Moira reminds Banning that they only have a few short years with their children. Soon they will grow up and they won’t want to spend time with their parents.
That night, Banning, his wife and Wendy attend a ceremony. When they return home, they discover that the children have been kidnapped by Captain Hook.
Banning, who is still in denial about his Peter Pan identity, is forced to go back to Neverland by Tinkerbell (played by a tiny Julia Roberts).
When Banning arrives on the Jolly Roger — Captain Hook’s ship — he’s confident that as a powerful corporate attorney he can just bring his kids home.
“Hook, you let those kids out of that net in less than one minute or you better get an attorney and hope to God he’s better than me,” Banning said.
“Who are you?” Hook said.
“I’m Peter Banning, Attorney at Law, these are my children and I want them back.”
At one point, Banning tries to write a check to get his kids back.
Hook is surprised and disappointed that Peter Pan has grown up — he doesn’t want to fight a lawyer, he wants to fight The Pan. Hook demands that Banning fly and free his children but Banning couldn’t.
Over the next three days, Banning meets up with the Lost Boys, a group of orphaned kids now lead by Rufio.
“I want to speak to a grown up!” Banning demands.
“All grown-ups are pirates. We kill pirates,” Rufio replied.
“I’m not a pirate. It so happens that I am a lawyer.”
“Kill the lawyer!”
“I’m not that kind of lawyer.”
Initially, Banning struggles to find his identity amongst the Lost Boys. Soon, though, he learns to use his imagination to find his “happy thought” — the memories that will give him the power of flight.
Within three days, he’s able to fly, fight and “crow” — like the Lost Boys do — and he’s once again sporting Peter Pan’s signature green tights.
He returns to the Jolly Roger to retrieve his children, and reveals that his “happy thought” was his son, Jack.
A battle between the pirates and the Lost Boys ensues. Hook faces off with Rufio and stabs him.
Before he dies, Rufio tells Banning, “You know what I wish? I wish I had a dad like you.”
Hook is ultimately defeated. Banning and his kids fly back to London.
At the end, Banning tosses his cellphone out the window into the snow.
The moral of the story is simple–No matter how high-flying your career might be, family always comes first.
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