Return to Never Land (also known as Peter Pan 2 or Peter Pan 2: Return to Never Land') is a 2002 American animated fantasy comedy-drama film produced by DisneyToon Studios in Sydney, Australia and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The film is a sequel to the 1953 film Peter Pan, and one of DisneyToon's few sequels to premiere in theaters (as opposed to going Direct to Video).
The movie takes place mainly during World War II, after the now-grown-up Wendy has married and become the mother of two children, Jane and Danny. Jane refuses to believe her mother's stories about Peter Pan and Never Land, choosing to instead focus on surviving the Luftwaffe's nightly bombing raids, but gets kidnapped by Captain Hook one night after being mistaken for her mother. After Peter Pan saves her, he tries to help her return to London from Never Land, by teaching her how to fly. When Jane's difficulty in believing in magic and fairies keeps her grounded - and also causes Tinker Bell's light to start to fade - Peter and the Lost Boys try to help Jane realize the power of "faith, trust, and pixie dust" by training her to become the first "Lost Girl". However, Captain Hook also ropes her into his schemes to capture Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, and claim some treasure.
Return to Never Land provides examples of:
- 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: The pirate ship flying through London is CG.
- Absurdly Youthful Mother: Given this movie takes place over 40 years after the original, Wendy should be well into her mid-50s, but she doesn't look a day over 25.
- Adorably Precocious Child: Jane, who tries her hardest to be practical and mature.
- Arc Words: "Faith, trust and pixie dust", which seem to be mentioned more often here than they were in the first film.
- Art Evolution: While the moviemakers have made an obvious attempt at staying true to the look and feel of the original movie, there's a notable change nonetheless — the sequel is more cartoony in its animation, the colors are brighter, the backgrounds simpler, and the entire thing has a sleeker, more "modern" feel to it. This is hardly surprising when there's fifty years between the movies, techniques have changed and new animators have taken over.
- Ascended Extra: One of the things the sequel actually has going for it is that the Lost Boys (who were bit characters in the first movie) get far more screen-time, much stronger characterizations, and a bigger part in the plot. They even get to introduce themselves to Jane by name (although Curly's name is changed to Cubby), while their names weren't even mentioned in the original movie.
- Award-Bait Song: "I'll Try" by Jonatha Brooke.
- Bag of Kidnapping: When Captain Hook and his pirates kidnap Jane from her house after using Tinker Bell's pixie dust to fly them there on their ship, Mr. Smee does this to her after she is gagged, at one point when when the ship turns she bumps into the side and the bag comes open but a pirate spots her and stuffs her back in.
- Billed Above the Title: Peter Pan receives this treatment.
- Bizarre Dream Rationalization: Jane is in disbelief the first time she sees Peter and Tinker Bell, but quickly brushes it off as she's dreaming, maintaining that Peter isn't real.
- Bookends: During the opening, young Wendy calls out to Peter, "I'll always believe in you, Peter Pan!" Towards the end, Jane, after all the Character Development she went through, also makes this vow.
- Chekhov's Gun: Jane uses the knife that's always in one pirate's mouth to cut the Lost Boys free.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
- The film makes no mention of John and Michael's current whereabouts. Presumably, they're involved in the war effort.
- Tiger Lily and all of the natives make no appearance, though they are alluded to and Peter even flies through their (empty) camp at one point. Probably they were left out for the sake of political correctness.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Tinker Bell suffers from a fading light and a loss of her magic after Jane declares that she doesn't believe in fairies, and Peter and the Lost Boys realize that Tink's "light will go out" unless Jane learns to believe. She does eventually learn, but because this is a movie and not a stage play, no clapping is required.
- Comedic Underwear Exposure: When the octopus first encounters Captain Hook and mistakes him for a codfish, he grabs Hook's legs with his tentacles in an attempt to eat Hook, and ends up pulling off Hook's trousers to reveal he wears white boxers with red hearts underneath.
- Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Wendy was reluctant to grow up and only understood the need to do so after being faced with eternal childhood. Jane grew up too fast and had to be reminded that she is still a child.
- The Comically Serious: Jane, from the moment she first arrives in Neverland until Character Development finally sinks in. Until she accepts the fun of it, everything in Neverland seems hellbent on hilariously backfiring on her - a great example being her first attempt to go home, framed like a soldier setting off to their duty: she bids Peter a formal goodbye, builds a boat and sets sail with a triumphant "Hail Britannia" playing in the background... only for the ship to immediately sink and for her to take a pratfall into the water as she clumsily attempts to get off of it.
- Creative Closing Credits: The camera pans around an abstract map of Never Land.
- Dad's Off Fighting in the War: Edward, Wendy's husband and Jane and Danny's father, is forced to leave to help fight in the war.
- Darker and Edgier: Compared to the first movie, this one significantly raises the stakes. The movie opens in the middle of a war-torn London with the family being on the verge of death at any given moment, and rather than it being about the main character refusing to grow up, it takes the darker opposite approach of the main character refusing to accept being a child.
- Dark Reprise: The movie divides "I'll Try" between one part describing Jane's difficulty to believe "all these childish stories" about Never Land, and a part in which the sight of Tinker Bell's lifeless body causes Jane to realize all too late the harm in forgetting the power of "all those precious stories". It evolves into a Triumphant Reprise when the singer declares that now Jane believes in the magic, shortly before Tink regains her light and comes back to life.
- The Day the Music Lied: If only Jane had thrown the whistle further...
- Dead Hat Shot: Subverted. Shortly after Peter and Tinker Bell dive into the ocean to rescue Jane from the octopus, Peter's hat is seen bobbing on the surface of the water. This leads to Hook congratulating himself for finally defeating him... until seconds later, Peter emerges holding the sack Jane is inside of and asks Hook if he missed him.
- Disney Death: Tinker Bell dies because Jane didn't believe in fairies. She is revived when Jane finally starts to believe.
- Downer Beginning: Jane and Nana II trodding through the war-ravaged landscape of London.
- Easily Forgiven / Welcome Back, Traitor: Peter and the Lost Boys are surprisingly forgiving of Jane despite her nearly killing Tinker Bell and working with Hook to capture then just so she could go home.
- Epic Fail: Jane tries to leave Never Land by making herself a raft, but when she sails it, it sinks from springing a leak.
- Even the Dog Is Ashamed: After Jane yells at her brother for still believing in Peter Pan when there's a war going on, Wendy chastises her daughter for being too grown up. Even Nana II slinks out of the nursery in disappointment, leaving Jane all alone.
- Everybody Cries: The Lost Boys cry not once, but twice in this movie. The first time is Played for Laughs: when the Lost Boys are tied up to the ship's mast after being captured by the pirates, Peter tells them to not let the pirates see them cry, prompting the boys to sneak behind the mast before bursting into tears. The second time, on the other hand, is Played for Drama.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: Hook initially attempts to lure the octopus into eating Peter as part of a deathtrap, only for it to take a taste for him instead. By the end of the movie it's destroyed his ship and has chased him off into the sunset.
- Exact Words: Besides the "won't harm a single hair on Peter Pan's head" false oath by Hook, there's also this gem: When Peter tells the captured boys "Be brave, lads! Don't let them see you cry!", they immediately slink behind the mast they're tied to so the pirates won't see them... and then begin bawling loudly.
- Green Around the Gills: Tinker Bell is hit with a case of motion sickness while Peter's taking Jane for a spin around Never Land.
- Hand Puppet: For Danny's birthday, Jane buys him two large and un-matching socks. When Wendy sees him disappointed with this gift, she makes them into Peter Pan and Captain Hook sock puppets.
- Irony: Despite being Wendy's daughter, Jane grew to be everything her mother isn't. She's practical-minded, logical, and scoffs at anything to do with Peter Pan and Neverland. If anything, she's more like her grandfather from the previous movie, right down to using the word "Poppycock" when writing off the stories of Peter Pan. It's also not lost on Peter Pan or the Lost Boys that Jane is less like a child and more like a tiny adult. Justified, as WWII did take up the better part of Jane's childhood, forcing her to grow up quickly in order to get her family through the war.
- Logo Joke: In the opening Disney Vanity Plate, pixie dust rains down on the Blue Castle.
- Loophole Abuse: "...not to harm a single hair on Peter Pan's head." After capturing Peter, Hook gives Jane the one hair he said he wouldn't harm.
- Mass "Oh, Crap!": Tink, Peter, and the Lost Boys, when Jane states she doesn't believe in fairies.
- A Minor Kidroduction: Jane gets one to show how much of a Cheerful Child she used to be (even cheering, "Never Land!" after Wendy points out the Second Star to the Right shining above London) before WWII escalated.
- Mood Whiplash: Via Musicalis Interruptus. Jane and the Lost Boys celebrate her becoming the first ever "lost girl" when she finds the hidden treasure. But the festivities of becoming one of the Lost Boys is very short-lived, as Tootles curiously blows the whistle that Captain Hook gave Jane. What was supposed to be a happy occasion quickly turns into the darkest hour, as Peter Pan and the Lost boys are promptly captured by Hook and his crew, the latter of which oust Jane as a spy.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Jane has this reaction when Peter and the Lost Boys are captured by the pirates and when she finds Tinker Bell's body.
- Mythology Gag: When Tinker Bell is sick, Slightly is the one acting the doctor, complete with a thermometer. In the original play/novel, it was Slightly who acted as "doctor" after Wendy was shot, and his way of "curing" her was to put a thermometer in her mouth.
- The original Peter and Wendy novel has a habit of using the adverb "awfully" to emphasize magnitude ("Never is an awfully long time", "To die would be an awfully big adventure", etc.). Here, when Peter finds Jane after deciding to make her into a Lost Girl, he tells her he's "awful sorry" for ruining her notebook.
- Never Say "Die": Apparently Tinker Bell does this when explaining to Peter that Jane's lack of belief in fairies is killing her:Slightly: What did she say, Peter?
Peter Pan: If we don't get Jane to believe in fairies, Tink's light's gonna go out.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Tootles finds the whistle Captain Hook gave to Jane which she discarded, and upon the last note of "Now That You're One Of Us", he blows it, alerting the pirates of the treasure cave and causing Peter to lose faith in Jane.
- One-Book Author: This was Harriet Owen's only major acting role. After this movie, she left acting to teach at the Religious Education at the Royal Grammar School in Guildford, Surrey.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Jane's little brother can't seem to decide what accent to speak with.
- Proper Lady: Wendy Darling.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Jane cries out, "And I especially! Don't! Believe! In fairies!" when she snaps, causing Tinker Bell to lose her light.
- Race Against the Clock: A minor one for Jane; she has to learn to believe in fairies otherwise Tink's light will go out for good.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Peter (red) and Jane (blue).
- Reset Button: By the end of the previous movie, Hook had discovered Peter's lair and destroyed it with a bomb, but Peter and the Lost Boys subsequently took Hook's ship for themselves after chasing away the pirates. Come this movie, Hook has his ship back, the Lost Boys' lair is fully restored, and Hook once again has no idea where this lair is. All without so much as a handwave.
- Sidekick Song: "So to Be One of Us", in which the Lost Boys guide Jane through a carefree and fun-filled day in their lives.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The octopus is more or less exactly the same as the crocodile was, even making a "blip-bloop" sound that's almost identical to the crocodile's "tick-tock." The only difference apart from their species is that the octopus is antagonistic to everyone, not just Hook (though Hook does become a particular favorite prey of his) — other than that it's hard to see why Disney couldn't just use the crocodile.
- Talk to the Fist: Peter's first impression of Jane is quite literally her sucker-punching him mid-sentence.
- That Was Not a Dream: When Jane first gets a good look at Peter Pan and Tinker Bell in the flesh, she initially figures that she's only dreaming about meeting them.
- Those Wacky Nazis: The film starts off during the bombing of London in World War II. Cue Captain Hook flying his galleon through a squadron of Luftwaffe. This makes the already brilliant and awesomely funny Hook even more awesome and brilliant and funny.
- Trailers Always Spoil: Promotional materials for the film make no secret in showing what happens in the third act.
- Triumphant Reprise:
- Jane and the Lost Boys sing "Now That You're One Of Us" after Jane finds the treasure, completing her training to become the first Lost Girl. Due to Musicalis Interruptus caused by the arrival of the pirates, it doesn't last long.
- "I'll Try" also has a form of this, in that the first half of the song is in a low key, and is about Jane the young adult. The second half is about Jane the 'first' Lost Girl, and how she found herself by becoming Lost.
- Unwilling Suspension: Peter when prisoner on the pirate ship. Oddly enough, they have an anchor with shackles attached to it.
- "The Villain Sucks" Song: Mr. Smee declares in "Here We Go, Another Plan" that Captain Hook will always lose to Peter Pan.
- Villainous Breakdown: Captain Hook, after being foiled by Jane, flies off into a homicidal rage and tries to kill her.Captain Hook: I've had just about enough of your childish games!
- Villainous Face Hold: Captain Hook lifts a captured Peter's chin up using his hook so that he can see his face whilst he gloats.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Beyond a vague mention by Hook that he'd "finally got rid of him," it's never explained exactly what happened to the crocodile between the two films.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
Wendy: Jane, how could you treat your brother that way? You think you're very grown up, but you have a great deal to learn.
- After Jane argues with her brother for his beliefs in Peter Pan, Wendy chastises her for being too grown up.
- After getting captured by Hook and his pirates, Peter chews out Jane for not only making a deal with him (which she never agreed to), but also letting Tink die by saying that she doesn't believe in fairies.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: For a moment, it seems things may be finally looking up for Jane, as she starts to embrace the Lost Boy lifestyle, finds a hidden treasure, and is proclaimed the first Lost Girl by Peter. Then Tootles finds and blows the whistle Hook had previously given her, and everything goes south.
- You Said You Would Let Them Go: Hook fools Jane this way after making a deal with her to show him where Peter's treasure was in exchange for a ride home to London.