It's a pleasure to have Peter Pan back again after an absence of several years. While not a Disney classic of the very first rank - it's no ''Pinocchio'' or ''Dumbo'' - it has a sense of fun and imagination that stand up marvelously. And, as more than one critic has pointed out, it has a special kind of ''realism ,'' in that it presents the most fantastic flights of the old J.M. Barrie tale with no artifices but the film's own cartoon format.
On the minus side, there are some slow spots, and the important Wendy character seems rather precious during her early scenes. On the plus side, though, there's the near-perfect portrayal of Captain Hook, not to mention the delicious idiocy of his henchman, Smee. And don't forget the warm sketches of the Darling household - or the fabulous battles between Hook and his nemesis, the tick-tocking crocodile, who stalks the wicked pirate in a zany reversal of the ''Moby Dick'' motif.
It adds up to a splendid show, which delighted my children last week as much as it captivated me when it was fresh in 1953. Long may it fly.