Reel Rating: 5 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: PG for mild thematic material, some action/peril and smoking
Released in Theaters: Nov. 23, 2011 (2D, 3D)
Genre: Family, Drama, History, Adventure
Runtime: 126 minutes
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, and Jude Law
Official Site: http://www.hugomovie.com/
MOVIE SYNOPSIS: It’s Paris in the 1930s, and 12-year-old Hugo Cabret is an orphan living in the walls of a busy train station. When not stealing scones for breakfast or dodging the stern station inspector, Hugo works to repair his beloved automaton, the mechanical man his father rescued from museum archives before his tragic death. But the gadget just might hold a few secrets for Hugo.
Sex/Nudity: An older man harks back to how he courted his wife; the two hug and kiss. A boy and girl hold hands, and she kisses him on the cheek. The station inspector asks a policeman if he’s “had relations” with his wife in the past year. The inspector also flirts with a woman who runs a flower stand at the station.
Violence/Gore. Hugo’s father is killed in a tragic fire from which Hugo escapes. The station inspector releases his snarling Doberman on a couple of kids, throws them into the station jail, and calls the orphanage to come pick them up. Hugo has a nightmare about being run over by a train.
Profanity: Insults like “liar,” “no-good thief,” “idiot,” and “drunk.”
Drugs/Alcohol: Hugo’s uncle is a drunk who cares nothing for the boy. Diners at a train station café are shown with wine glasses.
Which Kids Will Like It? Kids eight and older who are interested in filmmaking or those who like movies from a bygone era. It may also strike a chord with kids who love technology; it’s cool to see a vintage mechanical man drawing on a piece of paper.
Will Parents Like It? Yes, Hugo is a beautiful film with a hopeful message. The cinematography is stunning, the sets detailed, and the dialogue smart, incorporating words like “superlative,” “visage,” “intrepid,” and “panache.”
REVIEW: Only the master of film himself, Martin Scorsese, could make a family movie that involves the history of filmmaking. The reason it works as a family movie is because Scorsese slyly blends the history of filmmaking with a very human story about loss, hope and new beginnings. Viewers — especially young viewers — don’t need to be conked over the head with an inspirational message. They need a tale so engaging they’ll forget they’re even watching a movie.
And yes, the best family films start with a great story, so it helps that this one is based on Brian Selznick’s Caldecott-winning novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. It tells the story of Hugo (Asa Butterfield), a 12-year-old orphan living within the walls of a Paris train station in the 1930s. He’s a good boy who’s trying to make the best of things after losing his dad (Jude Law) in a tragic fire and being sent to live with his drunken Uncle Claude (Ray Winstone) who keeps the clocks running at the station.
After his uncle abandons him, Hugo continues caring for the clocks and survives by swiping scones from vendor carts and dodging the stern Station Inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen) who stomps around with his leg brace and scary Doberman. But Hugo’s real passion is his beloved automaton, and he steals parts to fix the mechanical man his dad rescued from museum archives before his death.
When Hugo attempts to lift a wind-up mouse from eccentric toy seller Georges Melies (Ben Kingsley), he embarks on an adventure that leads him to uncover the origins of the automaton. Georges’ orphaned goddaughter, Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), befriends Hugo, and they discover an intriguing connection.
Hugo is not only a beautiful story about a time in France’s post-war history when movies were melted into chemicals to make shoe heels, but the attention to 1930s-era detail is magnificent. There’s the fairy tale train station that bustles with activity. The complex inner workings of the massive clocks. Bakery carts filled with warm scones and buns. Wooden armoires with ornate carvings. Wise librarians who love books. And women in knitted berets selling flowers. The whole movie has a Dickensian feel to it.
And I love movies where the kids are brave and resourceful. That’s not to say stealing is acceptable, but Hugo believes in his heart there’s more to the automaton than meets the eye, so you cut him a little slack on the thievery. You know it will lead to good things, and more than one person in this film will find purpose in life again.
I’ll leave you with this from Hugo: “I’d imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn’t be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason.”
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender.
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.