Happy birthday Steven Spielberg; we forgive you for ‘Hook’ [updated]

Dec. 18, 2010 | 9:39 a.m.
steven spielberg Happy birthday Steven Spielberg; we forgive you for Hook [updated]

Steven Spielberg (Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

Happy birthday to Steven Spielberg, who turns 64 Saturday. I didn’t get him a gift but since Forbes estimates his net worth at about $3 billion, I figure he pretty much has everything he needs.

spielberg Happy birthday Steven Spielberg; we forgive you for Hook [updated]

Steven Spielberg on the set of "Jaws" (Courtesy of Dick Zanuck)

If there was a Mt. Rushmore for contemporary Hollywood, the Cincinnati native’s face would be right up there ,smiling in stone, next to the visages of Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson and maybe, um, Tom Hanks or Will Smith. Or George Lucas or James Cameron? OK, so I’m a little foggy on the best fourth face but Spielberg’s granite presence is absolutely assured.

What’s his best film? There’s plenty of candidates but when in doubt, go with the shark — shot for shot, “Jaws” is pretty much a perfect film with its economical storytelling and sublime suspense. (It also introduced the summer blockbuster concept in Hollywood, for better or for worse, one of his Rushmore-worthy achievements.) I also love “Saving Private Ryan,” perhaps more than is fashionable, and “Schindler’s List” is a solemn and towering achievement that, for me, made Spielberg a more complicated and compelling persona to consider.

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” is perhaps the movie that best represents the temperament, tastes and talent of the director but my favorite Spielberg movie is absolutely “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” I could watch it every other weekend but that might say more about me than it does about the film. I think his most underrated movie is “Catch Me if You Can.” The worst movie? Pound for pound I say “Hook.” I just checked and there are six Oscar winners in the cast — Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Maggie Smith, Julia Roberts, Gwyneth Paltrow and, ahem, Phil Collins. And that doesn’t count Glenn Close and Bob Hoskins, who should be an Oscar-winner. Despite all the trophy types, the movie is absolutely unwatchable. What Spielberg movie do I want to revisit or reconsider? I haven’t seen “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” or “The Color Purple” in years and would like to check them out again.

So many of the young filmmakers I talk to today speak in awed tones about Spielberg and when they do so, some of them mention movies like “Munich” and “War of the Worlds” that suggest darker things stirring in the filmmaker’s art. Spielberg’s most interesting movie might be the one who he hasn’t made yet — don’t forget that Eastwood has only found more resolve and maverick integrity as he pushes into his seventh decade of walking this world.  So blow out the candles, Mr. S, and get back to work.

— Geoff Boucher


harrison ford hat Happy birthday Steven Spielberg; we forgive you for Hook [updated]

“Cowboys & Aliens”: Putting a new hat on Harrison

Spielberg wanted “Harry Potter” animated franchise

Spielberg on ‘Tintin’: ‘It made me more like a painter’

“Jaws” took a bite out of history 35 years ago

Zanuck ‘intrigued’ by re-release of  ‘Jaws’ in 3D

Jon Favreau explains why he’s leaving “Iron Man” gig

Ron Howard’s plan (and passion) for King’s “Dark Tower”

Eastwood: I was offered 1970s Superman role

Zanuck reflects on “Jaws,” “Apes” and Old Hollywood

UPDATE: An earlier version of this post listed Glenn Close as an Oscar winner but she has never won the award. 


35 Responses to Happy birthday Steven Spielberg; we forgive you for ‘Hook’ [updated]

  1. Mike says:

    I enjoyed Hook.

  2. ryan says:

    hook is best kids movie. you are wrong about it sir.

  3. Billy says:

    Yea, Hook is good.

  4. The Pope says:

    The Academy have never bestowed an Oscar on Glenn Close.

  5. Cal Godot says:

    No way is Hook as bad as War of the Worlds. All the latter has going for it are well-done effects. There's not even one good performance in War of the Worlds; Hook at least gives us an interesting and mostly delectable Captain Hook by Hoffman and one of the earliest 'straight' (i.e. not completely wacky) performances from Robin Williams. And Hoskins is hilarious in Hook – that man has a great gift for comedy. The child actors are also not so bad, and typical of those early Spielberg films he demonstrated a masterful hand at directing kids and playful action. (He really doesn't direct kids any more, does he? This was once a singular trait in Spielberg films: his focus on family themes is of course legendary, and all of his early films featured significant if not central child characters, but he seems now to be dealing more with "grown up kids" (adults who have failed or refuse to "grow up") – which actually would make Hook an even more significant film in that it presages his interest in "immature adults.") Yeah, Geoff: no surprise I disagree with you, and of course it's really just subjective personal opinion, but you're just way off on this one, buddy: you may enjoy the later film more, but Hook is a significant film for Spielberg, with a cast far more entertaining than that of War of the Worlds.

  6. Tim says:

    I also disagree- Hook is a great film. The performances are over the top as is the directing, but it works so well. If you look at it's background this film was originally going to be a musical. Now it does invoke some serious childhood memories for me, but I watched it 2 weeks ago and loved it just the same.
    One of it's crowning achievements is John Williams' score, over the top and orchestral which suits the film finely.

  7. midhun menan says:

    Hook is also nice film how spielberg think as a child

  8. midhun menan says:

    As some of the film iwatched thats all hook, war of world, min report,terminal, these film how the differ each but these have some unity is love in child i think you have adream to turn page of your child happy birthday by friend

  9. emm305 says:

    I liked Hook, and A.I. too.

    A.I. was fairly recent and had Haley Ozmint, a kid.

  10. Oly says:

    Rufio, Rufio, Rufio Rufeeoooo

  11. Jackie says:

    Hook is “unwatchable”?? What planet do you live on?! Oh right, pretentious film snob planet. What do you find so unwatchable about it?? You don’t even list that. That movie was one of my favorites growing up.

  12. Jessica says:

    Blasphemy. Hook is absolute brilliance.

  13. Charley Patton says:

    Actually War of the Worlds is quite great, the daughter is dressed in a Kachina outfit with purple camo= which means she's wearing a melted american flag. War of the Worlds is one of Spielberg's masterpieces, watch the multi-metaphors between car and tripod. Notice he stares into the camera while the camera tracks across the exposed airplane seats (get it? it's just like a movie theater). Hook? That's just a clever FAO Schwartz window display.

  14. John says:

    I think hook is a wonderful, charming movie. My family and I have watched it numerous times and never grow tired of it. Stellar cast, and great interpretation of the story! No forgiveness necessary Mr. Spielberg. I thank you for this fine film, and for the joy it has brought me and my family over the years!

  15. Mark says:

    Hook is a beautiful piece of work, full of nifty staging and superlative 2.35:1 cinematography. It's a kids movie, and sometimes I feel that adults like to put on their dismissive caps too easily. Hook isn;t a movie for the jaded or the analytical, it speaks to the young at heart. To my mind the only slightly below-par movies Spielberg has ever made are 1941 and The Lost World, and both of those are full of filmmaking on a level JJ Abrams and his ilk could only dream of. Can't wait to see Tintin, War Horse, Lincoln and Robopocalypse. Four new Spielberg films!

  16. Dbear says:

    In honour of the man and his works a pair of individuals have put together a Spielberg blogathon.


  17. Brett says:

    I agree. "War of the Worlds" was far worse than "Hook." His worst movie, though, by far, was that last Iindiana Jones movie. That was cringeworthy every step of the way.

  18. Paul says:

    Hook is a great, fun movie. This writer is nuts.

  19. evan says:

    unwatchable? you are out of your element dude… i used to watch hook every time my family visited our vacation house when i was a kid and i always looked forward to it. i think you are just jealous of the lost boys. you were forced to grow up too quick and now you can't relate to how awesome of a movie hook is.

    i'm not saying it's his best movie, or even in the top five. but definitely still a great movie.

  20. Jay L. says:

    I think "Hook" is a very watchable movie. It may not be Spielberg's best, but is by far way better than "War of The Worlds which to me was almost unwatchable.

    My favorite Spielberg movie, which hasn't been mentioned by anybody yet, is "Empire of
    The Sun" which starred the young teenage Christian Bale in his first major film role. Now that's a really good movie.

  21. Gabriel O. says:

    How could you forget "The Sugarland Express", his first feature? That was one of his more subtle, quieter movies, and it really packed an emotional punch for me (and proved that Goldie Hawn could carry a strong dramatic lead role). That's definitely one of his best films. It'd be great to see him direct another straight (i.e. not effects-laden) film again.

  22. David Moore says:

    You didn't mention POLTEGEIST which I know he didn't direct but he wrote and co-directed, (uncredited) which is a vision of horror and spawned a terriblel trilogy. My favourite Spielberg films would be CLOSE ENCOUNTERS and then a close second is RAIDERS and JAWS and a soft spot for JURASSIC PARK which is always fun to watch but I also love A COLOUR PURPLE which he was highly critcised for directing a black movie being a white man . By far his worst films include ALWAYS and he worst film by far is AI: ARTIFICAL INTELLIGENCE which was sentimentality by the forced bucket load. I seem recall Steven was in the middle of his divorce during the production of HOOK which is why it was so empty compared to other children/adult classics (like ET). I havent seen a good Spielberg film for years, I think he tends to go through the motions these days and certainly nothing since his awesome Schindler's List has been fulfilling. He should steer away from Sentimental subject matters completely, its his biggest weakness.

  23. Noelene says:

    Hook was my FAVORITE movie when I was a kid. BANGARANG!

  24. Tmiller says:

    I could not agree more. "Hook" was crap.

  25. Incensed says:

    Hook was my favorite film when I was REALLY little. I saw it when I was three turning four in Bayridge at the Alpine Cinemas. THAT's how profound the effect that movie had on me. Peter pan's sword was bad ass in that movie. I owned a replica of it. The wonder of spielberg is that he makes everyone feel like a kid again. On an ACTUAL kid that spielberg wonder is experienced ten fold. I was ready every day for years, to fly off to Neverland and fight Peter Pan and take back the lost boys from Rufio.

    I'm still ready.

  26. Brian says:

    I think "Hook" appeals to the kid in all of us. Dustin Hoffman played the part so delightfully. Who could forget the rant about the bedtime story? Me,Me,Me,I,I,I,Now,Now, Now…Gasp!! Who other than Robin Williams could play the part of Peter Pan with such flair?

  27. Chad says:

    Hook was a great movie !!! The writer must be Bangerang the head !!!!!

  28. ruben says:

    Mr. Boucher,

    Hook was a GREAT movie. One of the fondest memories of my childhood were watching this movie with my sister and my father. This movie is magical and I think you are way off on your bashing of this movie. Hook is one of Spielberg's greatest movies that retells the story of Peter Pan very cleverly and with lots of great acting, a wonderful cast, a captivating score from John Williams, and a terrific job by Robin Williams playing both mature adult and immature Peter Pan.

  29. MIKEjones says:

    GEOFF your an f-ing idiot. I am embarrassed that you are a writer for my local newspaper! Hook is a great movie because it succeeds in what Steven Spieldberg tries to accomplish into everyone of his films; use your imagination. As well as the film " The Goonies", which you forget to mention, are some of the greatest work of the generation and brought back some of the great memories of my childhood.
    Die Geoff, Die!

  30. Mark Wickland says:

    I agree with the writer on this one. "Hook" was by far his worst movie. I admit that Dustin Hoffman did a superb job playing Hook, but the storyline was terrible and most of the child actors were the worst of the worst. Even when I was a child I thought that movie was a major disappointment from the begininng all the way to the horrible ending where the fat black kid takes Peter Pan's place (just more politically correct stupidity that Hollywood constantly bombards us with, but that's another topic).

  31. Jaxon78 says:

    The first twenty minutes of HOOK are as wonderful and compelling as anything Mr. Spielberg has ever filmed (it only falls apart when we get to Neverland). In my opinion, his greatest mistep was the interminable ALWAYS, which was a cineplex version of Ambien.

  32. DUM,DUM,DUM,JAWS Will Always Be My Greatest Film To Watch,As With E.T.,Raiders,Encounters,Hook is So Wonderful Filled With Magic And Adventure,It’s No Wonder Why They Call On Him,If There Is Going To Be A Greatest American Hero Film,I Hope You’ll Direct It,Happy Birthday Mr, Speilberg From Mike Of Shalimar,Fl.06/12/2011,And Thank You,Peace.

  33. One More Thing,I Hope You All Dont Mind,When Will Hook Come To Blu-Ray As Well As All Of You’re Greatest Fims,Im Going Crazy Not Knowing The Release Date Of The Shark is Still Working,My Heart Goes Out To Roy Schieder’s Family,He Will And is Still Missed By Me And Others,We Also Lost Robert Culp As Well,Wonderful People and Actors,To All Actor’s I Salute You. 06/12/2011.

  34. HOOK is Not Only A Magical Ride For Kid’s But Adults,It’s Beutiful Theme,Its It’s Music And Dustin Hoffmin,They Could’nt Have Picked A Better Actor For That Part,What A Natural Steven Is And I Still Let Tear’s Out When I Watch E.T.,Happy Birtday Sir,Long Life And Good Health To You And You’re Famiy,Keep The Great Wonderful Work Coming Into Our Heart’s,GOD’S Speed.06/12/2011. M.T.Sr. Thank’s.

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