Return to Never Land (or Peter Pan in Disney's Return to Never Land) is a 2002 animation film sequel to the 1953 film produced by the DisneyToon studio in Sydney, Australia and released by Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. The original "Return to Neverland" VHS & DVD was released on August 20, 2002. It included digitally animated sequences and an all-new voice cast. Return to Never Land was re-released on a Pixie-Powered Edition DVD on November 27, 2007.
PlotThe story begins in World War II London, during the Luftwaffe's bombing campaign in preparation for Operation: Sea Lion. Peter Pan's former playmate Wendy Darling has grown up and married, and has two children of her own: an 12-year-old daughter Jane, and a 4-year-old son Danny. Her husband Edward is sent to fight in the European Theatre of the war, leaving her to raise the children by herself. She tries to keep their spirits up with stories of Peter Pan, but Jane has become cynical under the pressures of the war, belittling the stories her mother tells and ridiculing her brother's faith in them.
Captain Hook, still seeking revenge against Peter Pan, sails through the skies on his pixie-dust-enchanted pirate ship, finds Jane sleeping by the window, and – mistaking her for Wendy – abducts her to use as bait for Peter. However, his ship triggers an alarm and is mistaken for a Luftwaffe bomber and Hook has to escape for his life as the Germans attack London and Royal Air Force Spitfire planes move on the ship. Back in Never Land, he drops the girl into the waiting tentacles of "the beast", a giant octopus, expecting Peter to also be devoured by it as he dives after "Wendy" to save her. However, Peter rescues Jane and Hook is eaten instead. Though Hook manages to escape, the octopus enjoys his taste (much like the crocodile he had finally managed to lose long before) and begins hunting him down.
Peter rescues Jane, and upon finding she is Wendy's daughter, assumes she would like to follow in her mother's footsteps. He takes her to his home to be mother to the Lost Boys, but Jane refuses, more interested in getting back home. They try to make her have fun and to teach her to fly, but she fails because she doesn't believe. She blurts out that she doesn't even believe in fairies, which leaves Tinker Bell slowly dying.
Jane leaves them, and is approached by Hook, who tricks her with a deal. He promises to take her home and lies that he won't harm Peter, and she agrees to help him find his treasure. He gives Jane a whistle to signal him when she locates it. She returns to the Lost Boys to play a game of "treasure hunt", and they try to win her into becoming one of them, so she'll believe in fairies and restore Tinker Bell's health. When Jane finds the treasure and Peter and the Lost Boys make her the very first Lost Girl, she throws Hook's whistle away (before she becomes a Lost Girl), but Tootles finds it and – not realizing what it is for – blows it. Hook and crew arrive, and capture Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, but let Jane go as thanks for "helping" them. Peter hears this and says that now because she still doesn't believe in fairies, Tink's light would go out.
Back at the Lost Boys' home, Jane gets to Tinker Bell too late, but with her new-found belief, she revives her. They hurry to the Jolly Roger, where they find Peter on the plank. Jane saves him, and with the help of "faith, trust, and pixie dust" learns to fly. Hook grabs Jane, but Peter saves her, also sinking the ship. Hook and the pirates exit via a rowboat, pursued by the giant octopus who, due to a major sight problem, believes them to be different kinds of fish.
Now that she can fly, Jane is able to return home to Wendy and Danny; Peter and Tinker Bell escort her. Peter and Wendy are briefly reunited, and he is displeased that she's grown up, but she assures him that she hasn't really changed; Tinkerbell, having gotten over her jealousy of Wendy, covers her in pixie dust, allowing her to fly one last time; Wendy's proven her point to Peter, and he, slightly sad at losing a friend, flies off, Wendy, Jane, Danny and Nana II watching. Edward returns from the army, Hitler's plans to invade Britain were thwarted by the Royal Air Force (coupled with massive losses in Stalingrad), the family is reunited, and the family watches as Peter Pan and Tinker Bell quietly fly home.
Because nearly five decades had passed since the original Disney film, a new cast of voice actors was used for this sequel. Kathryn Beaumont, who provided the voice of Wendy in the original, recorded all of the now-adult character's dialogue for Return to Never Land, but Disney later had Kath Soucie completely rerecord the role.
- Harriet Owen as Jane (Singing voice provided by Jonatha Brooke) and Young Wendy Darling
- Blayne Weaver as Peter Pan
- Corey Burton as Captain Hook
- Jeff Bennett as Mr. Smee and Pirate Crew
- Kath Soucie as Wendy Darling
- Andrew McDonough as Danny
- Roger Rees as Edward
- Spencer Breslin as Cubby
- Bradley Pierce as Nibs
- Quinn Beswick as Slightly
- Aaron Spann as Twins
- Frank Welker as Nana II and Octopus
- Dan Castellaneta, Jim Cummings, Rob Paulsen, Clive Revill, and Wally Wingert as the additional voices
The film opened at the third position at the box office behind Crossroads and John Q Return to Never Land grossed $48,423,368 domestically and $61,432,424 overseas, for a total of $109,862,682. With an estimated budget of $20,000,000, this made Return to Never Land a modestly successful theatrical release. This was before DVD sales, which had been the initially planned market for the film. Reviews for this film are generally mixed to negative, with a total score of 45% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Nell Minow of Common Sense Media called it "Pleasant but forgettable", and John J. Puccio of Movie Metropolis called it "a lukewarm, watered-down recounting of everything we've seen before". Jason Anderson of Globe and Mail said "The boy who wouldn't grow up comes off like a shrill, obnoxious little drip." Additionally, Michael Edwards, a theatergoer that watched the movie, stated flat-out that the film is "not worthy of being called a Disney sequel" due to its inconsistencies and problems (see Trivia section). Jane was described by Tim Brayton as "an unappealing main character drifting through a dramatically inert script".
Return to Never Land was released on VHS and DVD August 20, 2002, and it took in only lukewarm sales. This version of the film went out of print on January 31, 2003. On November 27, 2007, Return to Never Land was released in a "Pixie-Powered Edition"; the movie was also released in a Peter Pan Trilogy, along with the Peter Pan Platinum Edition, and Tinker Bell, on December 18, 2008. The Pixie-Powered Edition returned to the Disney Vault along with Peter Pan on January 31, 2009. It was re-released on Disney Blu-ray August 20, 2013.
- As the voice of Wendy in Walt Disney's Peter Pan, Kathryn Beaumont likewise recorded all of Wendy's dialogue for Return to Never Land. However, for unknown reasons, the role of Wendy in Never Land was later recast with Kathie Soucie.
- Because most of the original voice cast from the film had died, including Hans Conried (the voice of Captain Hook) and Bobby Driscoll (the voice of Peter Pan), and because any surviving child actors at the time were too old to reprise their roles, an entirely new cast of actors had to be used to film this sequel.
- Corey Burton and Jeff Bennett, who played Captain Hook and Smee respectively, also provided voices for Star Wars games and animated cartoon series.
- This is the second Disney film set in England during World War II. The first one was Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
- End credits feature a remake of "Do You Believe in Magic?" by BBMak. The film also features a remake of the song "Second Star to the Right", the theme for the original movie.
- Although Jane and Peter fly through the Indian Encampment, Princess Tiger Lily and the Indians are not featured in the sequel. This is most likely due to their perceived stereotypical characteristics in the original film.
- In Return to Never Land the crocodile was replaced by an orange octopus. One of Hook's lines implies that the crocodile is dead but no further explanation is given. However, like the crocodile, the octopus just got a taste of Captain Hook and liked it so much, it's now going to be after him for the rest of his life.
- Mr. Smee made a reference to the crocodile by saying that the crocodile had more manners than the octopus.
- While the twins in the original movie spoke in unison, the twins in Return to Never Land have different voice actors and speak normally.
- The adult Wendy's clothing strongly resembles that of Belle's peasant dress in Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
- The Lost Boys were not named in the original film. In Return to Never Land, they are called to attention and most of them state the names Barrie gave them in the book: Slightly, in the fox suit; Nibs, in the rabbit suit; the Twins in the raccoon suits; and Tootles, in the skunk suit. Cubby, in the bear suit, had his named changed to complement his suit. He was named Curly in the novel.
- Cubby/Curly seems to be the most talkative Lost Boy in Return to Never Land, but he was not the main Lost Boy in Peter and Wendy. The primary Lost Boy was Tootles who, oddly enough, does not speak at all in either movie.
- When the Jolly Roger is flying through the vortex to Never Land, dialogue from the previous film can be heard, including Wendy's line, "Peter, you saved my life".
- It is the third Disney sequel to get a theatrical release, following The Rescuers Down Under and Toy Story 2. Other than The Jungle Book 2, Toy Story 3, Cars 2, and Monsters University, every other Disney sequel has had a direct to VHS/DVD release.