Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.

Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

St. Petersburg Times Online

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Fun for the kids (and politically correct)

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 18, 2002

Movie: Return to Neverland

Rating: G

Summary: In this sequel to Disney's 1953 film Peter Pan, Wendy returns as a grownup with a daughter, Jane, an infant son and a husband who has gone off to fight in World War II. This time, it's Jane's turn to encounter Peter Pan, his crew of Lost Boys and the evil Captain Hook on an imaginary (or was it?) adventure in Neverland.

My view: This film barely even strayed from the original. Just about everything from Peter Pan also showed up in this film. The beginning, the Lost Boys, Tinkerbell, Hook and Smee were all repeated in this version. Return to Neverland featured a gargantuan pink-and-orange octopus making suction-cup sounds instead of the ticking crocodile that terrorized Hook in the original.

At first, I wondered why Disney decided to make a big-screen sequel rather than just rerelease Peter Pan. After viewing the original again, though, I clearly understood why! By today's standards, the 1953 version is completely politically incorrect. A few examples: the Indians are portrayed stereotypically as savages murmuring only "How" and "Ugh." All of the kids and the Lost Boys happily smoked the peace pipe offered to them. Also, there is a scene where Hook's assistant, Smee, drinks heavily, and the results are played for laughs. As you can see, that is outrageously offensive in today's world.

The creators have made sure Return to Neverland is much less objectionable; in fact it's not objectionable at all.

Favorite part: I loved watching and listening to all the little kids who were viewing this film. They were into it! It provoked such a positive response. Not many G movies are released these days, but this one should draw lots of attention from parents with young children.

Least favorite part: Putting aside the fact that this is a film intended for very young kids and it was hard for me to sit through, I almost enjoyed it. If I were that age, I would have loved it.

Recommendations: This is an excellent movie for kids ages 2 to 8.

Grade: B

- Billy Norris, 14, is in the eighth grade at Seminole Middle School and is a former member of the Times X-Team.

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