OK for kids 8+
Spectacular book adaptation is great for tweens and up.
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?
The good stuff
Educational value: Kids will learn about the history of film, silent movies, and real-life French director Georges Melies, who made hundreds of the earliest short films in movie history.
Messages: The movie emphasizes the importance of films and how magical movies can be for their audience. Hugo's relentless faith in his father, in his mission to fix the broken, ends up being a metaphor for healing Melies' broken heart. Hugo and Isabelle discuss how everyone -- every thing -- has a purpose, and you just have to find out what it is for that purpose to be met.
Role models: Hugo and Isabelle are brave kids who overcome their fears to discover the truth. Their perseverance, even in the face of danger, sets an example for adolescents to follow their passion, seek the truth, and help fix what's broken in the world.
What to watch for
Violence and scariness: Hugo's father is killed in a fire. The station inspector sics his Doberman on unaccompanied kids and then brusquely throws them into the station jail before transferring them to an orphanage. In a nightmare, Hugo dreams that he's about to be run over by a train and then that he transforms into the automaton.
Sexy stuff: Two different sets of adults flirt with each other and are shown walking hand and hand. Married Papa Georges recalls his love of Mama Jeanne, and the two embrace and kiss. Hugo and Isabel hold hands, and she kisses him on the cheek in one scene. The station inspector has humorous conversations with the policeman about marriage, infidelity, and a baby's parentage of a baby. The station inspector asks the policeman if he has "had relations" with his wife in the past year.
Language: Insults like "idiot," "no-good thief," "liar," and "drunk."
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Uncle Claude drinks out of a flask and is obviously drunk. The inspector calls him a host of synonyms for "inebriated." People are shown with wine glasses at the train station cafe.
Fan Reviews provided by
Scorsese is a genius!!! by HoodCritic1
I underestimated this movie. I saw the trailer and thought "eh." Then I took a chance and saw it and wasn't disappointed at all. It used the 3D technology superlatively and the story just reveled in the art of escape. It said volumes about Scorsese, not only as a director, but a preservationist, who not only pays homage to one of the premiere film pioneers but sends a message about the effort of preserving and renewing amazing early films. The story was gorgeously and intelligently crafted. Using the story of a boy who lives in the walls of a train station to become something more was wonderfully done. The cast was incredible. Butterfield, Kingsley, Moretz, Baron Cohen, were all so electric and driven. The direction was sublime. This was definitely Scorsese's best work yet. I would be shocked if this didn't earn a Best Picture nomination.
Hugo by nancyrw977
This is such a beautiful and sweet story. It was not at all what I expected but turned out to be an amazing treat. The cast was perfect and it truly was the best movie I have seen in a while.
A Cinematic Masterpiece Like None Other. by Alon Patterson
Without question, this is an extraordinary film destined to be included among the movie classics of all time. Innovative, exceptional in all ways, it's really hard to tune into any one thing to admire most. For me, it was the tribute to filmmaking itself that bears the greatest of my acclaim. Every frame is a work or art. The cast is eclectic and timeless, each of them executing their roles seamlessly. The screenplay alone is a masterpiece. Do not miss this film on the big screen. We saw the 2D version and cannot imagine how it could be improved by 3D but any improvement whatsoever would be overkill to what we experienced. See it with the family. It's worth every penny of today's sky high ticket prices. You won't be disappointed.
very good, but not for little kids by sarahcolemanjarvis
I enjoyed the visual aspect of the film very much. My four year old was bored and wanted to leave. I should have know better than to take her, but she is usually very content to watch most PG movies. I think I expected a little more "magic/fantasty." I kept expecting something to happen that would be "magical" but it was more about the reality of the emotions. Still it was a beautiful film.
Hugo by jbgilfan
Hugo was quiet and sweet and spectacularly beautiful and touched your emotions. We recently saw War Horse which fit many of those same adjectives. What a pleasure to go see two such wonderful films that made you feel good when you walked out the door.
I really will not pay $10 or more to go see a film that is dark and leaves you feeling depressed.
Hugo absolutely did not. Ben Kingsley gave another wonderful performance that warmed your heart and the two child actors were engaging. Martin Scorsese also educated you to some degree as to the early film industry and the excitement and creativity that produced it.
It will be a difficult contest for the Academy Award for Best Picture this year.
Hugo - One of best pictures I've seen ever! by susanmbeyer
An absolute delight, Hugo should easily win Oscars for best film, directing, set design, script, and imagination. IMAGINE...a film with heart, love, action, mystery, great photographic effects, educational value, and a happy ending. IMAGINE...no sexual displays, no offensive language and no political insinuation. Even the theater audience applauded. Scorsese is a master...Hugo is a masterpiece!
Kudos for Scorsese by fogetty
It was of the same caliber as The Golden Compass, but without the magic and controversy. The action kept my attention for the whole time, and there were some interesting twists . Although I did not recognize most of the actors, each of the characters were "real" - believable. Definitely an Oscar contender!
Spectacular! by moviefanjared7
My brother and I loved the film! The acting and cinematography were excellent.
Although this movie is great for all ages, I would suspect that those who will get the most out of it will be ten years old and up. As an adult, I could appreciate it from a variety of perspectives.
In my opinion this was one of the best movies of the year! Definitely a "must see."
Not very memorable! by xpanther
It's only benn a week since I've watched Hugo and I can't recall parts of the film to review it!
Maybe I went in with high expectation(Scorcese and all..) and was mildly disappointed that it didn't sweeps off my ...ahem, seat.
It wasn't bad, really. Just wasn't spectacular. Also, I despise Cohen, so that detracted me a bit from enjoying the film.
I'd recommend to wait for the video release.
Excellent by grammarmaven
Saw it only in digital, not 3D, but the cinematography was beautiful and Kingsley a standout. Touching relationship between the two children. Good info for young people regarding very early film efforts.