|Return to Never Land|
|Directed by||Robin Budd|
|Screenplay by||Temple Mathews|
|Based on||Characters created|
by J.M. Barrie
|Edited by||Antonio F. Rocco|
|Music by||Joel McNeely|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures Distribution|
|Box office||$115.1 million|
Return to Never Land (also known as Peter Pan in: Return to Never Land and later retitled Peter Pan II: Return to Never Land on current home video release) is a 2002 American animated adventure fantasy film produced by Disney MovieToons and Walt Disney Television Animation. A sequel to Walt Disney Feature Animation's 1953 film Peter Pan (in turn based on J. M. Barrie's 1904 stage play Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up), the film follows Wendy's daughter who refuses to believe in her mother's story during the Blitz in London, only to be mistakenly brought to Neverland by the pirates. In order for her to get home, she meets Peter Pan, Tinker Bell and the Lost Boys who encourage her to fly and make her believe. The film stars the voices of Harriet Owen, Blayne Weaver, Corey Burton, Jeff Bennett, Kath Soucie, Spencer Breslin, and Bradley Pierce.
The film was released on February 15, 2002, by Walt Disney Pictures, and grossed $115 million against $20 million. The critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes says it has a "forgettable songs and lackluster story".
Many decades after the events of the first film, Wendy Darling is now grown up, married to a man named Edward, and has two children, Jane and Danny. With World War II raging, Edward leaves his family to fight, leaving Wendy to take care of the children. Jane becomes a very serious girl and, unlike her younger brother, refuses to believe in stories about Peter Pan and Neverland, referring to them as "poppycock". This ultimately leads to a furious argument with her mother and brother.
One evening, Wendy tells Jane and Danny that all the children in London will soon be evacuated to the countryside for their safety due to Nazi Germany's bombing of the city by the Luftwaffe. Later that evening, Peter's arch-nemesis, Captain Hook, and his pirate crew arrive on his pixie-dust enchanted ship and kidnaps Jane, mistaking her for Wendy, and takes her to Neverland, where they plan to feed Jane to an octopus in order to lure Peter into a trap. However, Peter rescues Jane, and Hook escapes from the disgruntled octopus, returning to the ship. After Peter learns that Jane is Wendy's daughter, he takes her to his hideout to be the mother of the Lost Boys as Wendy once was, but Jane refuses. The following day, as the boys fail to teach Jane about flying, she angrily snaps at them and proclaims her disbelief in fairies, causing Tinker Bell to not fly and her light starts to fade. This gives Hook an idea to lure Jane to him, and then kidnap Peter.
That evening, Hook finds Jane and promises her that he "wouldn't harm a single hair on [Peter's] head" if she helps him find the treasure that Peter and the Lost Boys stole. Hook gives Jane a whistle to signal him when she finds it and leaves. Jane asks Peter and the boys to play a game of "treasure hunt", and they teach Jane how to act like a Lost Boy, hoping to get her to believe in fairies and save Tinker Bell's life. Jane finds the treasure and changes her mind, discarding the whistle. The boys make her a "Lost Girl", before Tootles finds and blows the whistle, inadvertently alerting the pirates, who capture the boys and expose Jane as their accomplice. Jane tries to convince Peter that it was a misunderstanding, but Peter berates her for her deception and reveals that her disbelief in fairies is causing Tinker Bell's light to fade.
Horrified, Jane runs back to the hideout to find Tinker Bell's body. Jane is devastated, thinking the fairy is dead forever, but with Jane's new belief, Tinker Bell is revived. They head to the ship and see Hook forcing Peter to walk the plank. With Tinker Bell's help, Jane learns to fly. As Peter uses the anchor to sink the ship, the pirates, riding on a rowboat, are pursued by the octopus. After saying goodbye to the boys, Peter escorts Jane back home, where she reconciles with Wendy and Danny. Peter and Tinker Bell meet with Wendy again, then fly back to Neverland as Edward returns home and reunites with his family.
Disney MovieToons/Disney Video Premiere developed the project and then assigned the work for Peter and Jane to Disney Animation Canada. The film was a Peter Pan sequel originally designed as its first theatrical release. In fall 1999, the Canadian unit stopped work on what was then a video release. With Canada's closure, the work on Peter and Jane was instead moved to the Walt Disney Animation Australia and Walt Disney Animation Japan units. Cornerstone Animation was then contracted to do animation direction. The film moved back to a Disney MovieToons theatrical release. There were many changes made for this movie. Due to the controversy, the Native-Americans are completely absent in this movie, but it does show their teepees and totem poles in one sequence. Also following these changes, the mermaids are given brassieres since their appearances in its predecessor were considered sexualized.
Several original songs were written for the film: "I'll Try" (Jonatha Brooke, who also performs the reprise), "Here We Go Another Plan" (Jeff Bennett), and "So to Be One of Us" (They Might Be Giants).
The song "Second Star to the Right" from the original film is covered by Jonatha Brooke. The soundtrack also includes a cover of "Do You Believe in Magic" by BBMak.
Original songs performed in the film include:
The film opened at the third position at the box office behind Crossroads and John Q with $11.9 million. Return to Never Land grossed $48.4 million domestically and $66.7 million overseas, for a worldwide gross of $112.1 million, against a production budget of $20 million. It was before DVD sales, which had been the initially planned market for the film.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 46% based on 96 reviews, and an average rating of 5.41/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "With its forgettable songs and lackluster story, this new Pan will surely entertain kids, but will feel more like a retread to adults." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 49 out of 100, based on 26 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four and praised the vocal performances of Burton and Weaver, especially Burton's, though he expressed surprise for not having the two actors sing any of the movie's songs. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian published a negative review by calling the film a "completely uninspired cartoon sequel" to the Disney classic, dismissing it as a very dull retread of the original film.
Breslin was nominated for a 2003 Young Artist Award as Best Performance in a Voice-Over Role at the 24th Young Artist Awards.
Return to Never Land was released on VHS and DVD on August 20, 2002, and it took in only lukewarm sales. In November 2007, the film was released in a "Pixie-Powered Edition" and was also released in a Peter Pan trilogy, along with the Peter Pan Platinum Edition and Tinker Bell in December 2008.
The film was released on Blu-ray in August 2013, after the first Blu-ray release of Peter Pan. It was reprinted on Blu-ray in June 2018 as a Disney Movie Club Exclusive.