With so many different entertainment options out there for your children, we at PopcornBiz thought we'd take a moment each week to dissect one piece of family entertainment strictly from a parent's perspective, so that you know what parts are appropriate for your loved ones, and which are not. This week's COVER YOUR EYES subject: “Hugo.”
"Hugo" came out on DVD last week and I screened it for my kids. Not because I thought it would be all that scary or anything. But because I wanted to know if my kids would find it all that interesting. Of all the Photoshop jobs from the "If Oscar movies told the truth" series, the one for "Hugo" is among the most biting of all:
Martin Scorsese's loving homage to the early era of cinema and filmmaking... for children. MARKETING NIGHTMARE, IN 3D.
Was this Oscar-winning financial dud really too obtuse for your little ones? Let's consider a few factors:
The “Will Parents Be Able To Tolerate It?” Factor: Probably. Like "Where The Wild Things Are" (which was awful), "Hugo" is less a child's movie than it is an inner child's movie: designed specifically to cause grownups to reminisce over the joys and pain of youth. In the case of "Hugo," we're talking about Martin Scorsese's inner child. So if you happen to have a kid who's half the size of all the other kids, talks too much, and adores watching old spools of silent movies, then I suppose "Hugo" is a good fit. But normal kids will be bored to death.
The Dead Parent Factor: Big. Jude Law dies in a fire, much to the delight of scorned women around the world. That leaves Hugo an orphan, constantly in danger of being shipped to the orphanage, where hell presumably awaits him. There's a scary moment in the film where another orphan is dragged away by Sasha Baron Cohen and locked in a cage, and that's not a terribly fun thing for kids to dwell on. They may be asleep by that part of it, though.
The Sexy Sex Sex Factor: Cohen has one passing conversation with a cop in which he asks about having "relations." There's also some light flirtation going on all about the train station where Hugo lives. Such a epicenter of romance, those Parisian train station. Gare du Amore!
The Scare Factor: Minimal. The automaton that Hugo fixes has a scary face, kind of like the Shatner mask used in "Halloween." I wouldn't sleep in the same room as that thing. Otherwise, most of the scares here involve Hugo in danger of being dragged away to the orphanage.
The Violence Factor: Minimal. Law's fiery death isn't shown in graphic detail. Baron Cohen's gimpy leg is the result of a war wound, which may cause your children to ask about what war is and why it handicaps people in such a manner. Again, if they're awake. They probably won't be awake.
The Racism Factor: It's an all-white cast. Could they not find a single black Parisian?
Age Range: 47 and up. I don't think any kid would be scarred by watching "Hugo." They'd just be bored senseless. There are very few action set pieces (Hugo hanging off the big clock is the only bone Scorsese throws to the kids). Mostly it's just talking and talking, with the occasional flashback thrown in. Movie critics loved this movie because it paid homage to all of the old obscure movies that they care about that NO ONE ELSE does. Frankly, I hate this kind of movie. It's so transparent when a movie is paying homage to movies of old that it completely takes you out of the story. Kind of ironic, actually. Anyway, your kids won't last twenty minutes through "Hugo."