A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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.
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.
Positive Role Models
Hugo and Isabelle are curious, courageous 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.
Violence & 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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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Insults like "idiot," "no-good thief," "liar," and "drunk."
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Drinking, Drugs & 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.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although Hugo is a book-based period adventure about the art and magic of movies that 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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
It might have seemed impossible, but Scorsese has proved that he can pull a Spielberg and create a magical movie -- about the magic of movies -- for all. Martin Scorsese isn't the kind of director you'd expect to make a spectacular film for families. He is, after all, the auteur behind such mobster dramas as Goodfellas, Casino, and The Departed. But by selecting Selznick's genre-defying illustrated novel as his subject, Scorsese is able to tackle one of his personal passions -- the history of early film and a very real director named Georges Melies. Once Hugo discovers that Papa Georges is actually the long retired-but-not-forgotten prewar director, the story transforms into a visual love letter to the pioneers of film history, as viewed from the perspective of a young movie fan.
Butterfield is simply amazing. With eyes that evoke every emotion from awe to horror, the young English actor is a revelation, as is his on-screen connection to Moretz, one of America's best teenage actresses, and Kingsley, one of the best actors, period. Cohen provides much-needed comic relief with his manic portrayal of the crippled station inspector, who's also a lonely war veteran; and as film historian Rene Tabard, Michael Stuhlbarg is a stand-in for Scorsese and any serious film lover. The 3-D in Hugo is dazzling and the set pieces as visually appealing as an actual walk through Paris.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.