Thanks to WPR I got to see Hugo a few days early (you all had a chance as well, we gave away tickets). My family was pretty excited to see it, my daughter’s teacher had just finished reading the book to her class (she’s in second grade) so she was especially excited. My wife and I and our almost 6-year-old weren’t familiar with the book and had only seen the trailer before going.
If you’re not familiar with the story the basic rundown is it is the story of Hugo, a boy who lives in the train station in mid-1900s Paris (I think) where he keeps all the clocks running while avoiding the station inspector. He is also desperately seeking a message from his father through a mechanical man the two were repairing before his father’s untimely demise.
Here is what each of us thought:
Me: I went into it thinking it was more of an adventure film, when it proved to be far more dramatic I found myself pleasantly surprised. I also initially wondered why the film was in 3-D, there were no real moments where you needed anything to fly out into the audience. By the end however, the 3-D had become just as integral to the story as anything else. Without giving too much away, the 3-D and overall filming of the show created a very magical mystery that really had me wondering what was going to happen up until the end. Ben Kingsley played an excellent bitter old man and the way the story came together in the end was truly magical. Plus keep your eyes open for the uncredited cameo of one of the film’s producers, I’ll let you figure out who it is.
Wife: She loved the historic feel of it and the history of movies (you’ll understand if you read the book or see the movie) and the imaginative world with the automaton (robotic man) and trying to figure out why Ben Kingsley’s character was so grumpy and mean. She said she would have never guessed the ending and loved how it all came together.
Daughter: My 8-year-old told me she was very glad she read the book before going otherwise she would have had a hard time following the story (granted there is a lot going on and it does deal with some more adult topics, war, death, etc.). She also pointed out the ways the book and the movie were different, not in a negative way but more of an excited to tell us what we missed out on. She really enjoyed the movie although a few moments got rather intense for her (she tends to scare easily and the station inspector’s dog made her really tense, she still won’t watch any Disney movies if they have “witches” in them, so this may not be true of all 8-year-olds).
Son: My son turns 6 next week and while he had fun going to the movie, he didn’t get much out of it and I wouldn’t recommend taking children his age of younger, they’re just not going to get it. He also got a bit scared by the dog and the middle of the film does get a little long and he was looking really sleepy.
Overall, we really enjoyed Hugo and would recommend it to family, friends and you too. It tells a meaningful story, the acting is superbly done and the visuals are quite spectacular. My wife and I are also now really excited to read the book.