What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although this book-based period adventure about the art and magic of movies is rated PG, it may be a tad too mature for younger elementary school-aged kids. Between the orphaned main character (whose father dies in a fire), the looming threat of being sent to the orphanage by the mean station manager, and an extended sequence about the history of early film, it's unlikely that kids under 8 will follow the sophisticated story. Since author Brian Selznick's novel is aimed at middle-grade readers, that's a good age to target for the movie, too. Kids who do watch will take away worthwhile messages about perseverance and overcoming fears, and budding filmmakers will especially delight in the movie's second half. Expect a little bit of flirting and hand-holding, a few insults, and one drunk (adult) character.
- Families can talk about the movie's message about the art of filmmaking. Are movies as transformational as Melies claims? What is the role of movies -- to entertain, to educate, to provide meaning? Do all movies fulfill that role, or only some?
- The movie says Hugo was looking for a message from his father but ended up on a journey "home." What does that mean? How is Hugo responsible for everything that transpires?
- Fans of the book: How is the movie different than the story? What characters or scenes didn't make it into the adaptation? What did the filmmaker add that you liked? Why are changes sometimes made when books are adapted for the big screen?