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The Iron Giant

Directed by Brad Bird. US. 1999. 6+. 86 minutes. Warner Bros. DVD.
Sat., January 28, 2012
January 28, 2012
2:00 pm

“…at its core, The Iron Giant is basically E.T. in reverse: same starry-eyed story of a boy befriending an alien, only here, it’s the boy’s simple wisdom that makes an impression on the alien, not the other way around. And while there’s no single image in The Iron Giant to match the iconic shot of children cycling in silhouette under the moonlight, there isn’t much difference between that flight and a young boy cradled into the palm of a 100-foot-tall robot, catching a bird’s-eye view of a seaside town in New England. The bond between boy and alien may just transcend the bond between boy and dog.

…Messages of non-violence are easy enough to come by in animated movies, but other lessons in The Iron Giant are considerably more radical. Though it can be hard to read the subtext in Bird’s movies—for all of The Iron Giant’s leftist readings, his subsequent effort for Pixar, The Incredibles, was viewed by some as a right-wing screed—this film has a healthy anti-authoritarian streak that’s rare in children’s entertainment. Here, the beatnik is a hero and the square-jawed, Eliot Ness-like government agent is a villainous buffoon. (And hooray for single mothers, too: Hogarth’s mom works night and day, and still teaches him enough about right and wrong to save the world.) In an environment where most movies of its kind have a different message—i.e. “buy me in plush or action-figure form”—The Iron Giant chalks one up for progressive parenting.” (Scott Tobias, read the complete review at The Onion A.V. Club)

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