Tuesday, August 10, 1999

Movie Review: The Iron Giant

It's a shame about The Iron Giant. The movie's opening weekend box office was dismal (9th place... one above The Phantom Menace). Really, I am not surprised. The TV ads and theatrical trailers for this film, to use the colloquial, sucked ass! When I first started to see previews for the Iron Giant, I laughed and thought "How LAME!" Rotten, rotten, rotten advertising from those folks at Warner Bros. Marketing. So why'd I see the movie, you ask? Well, because of all the glowing, superb, excellent, splendiferous reviews on Harry Knowles' Ain't It Cool News web site, that's why! As I read through all the reviews there, I thought to myself, "Geez, this movie must be alright. Maybe I should check it out." After all, it wouldn't be the first time that a film was completely mis-advertised - although usually, the trailers make the movie look approximately 8 gazillion times better than it is.

Anyhow, Friday night I was intent on dragging my poor girlfriend to see South Park. I had already seen it twice, but she hadn't and, despite her lack of enthusiasm, I needed to take her. But, lo and behold, it was sold out! Two hours before show time! What to do, what to do? Well, The Iron Giant starts in ten minutes and that ain't sold out! I figured, since I'm forcing my better half to see one animated movie, what the hell! Her protests were far bigger than they were for South Park, but I was paying so I got her in. I know, I'm a lousy boyfriend... like your relationship is perfect, if you have one, that is.

So the movie: young Hogarth Hughes, who lives with his divorced, overworked mom, befriends an alien and has to protect it from the sinister US government. E.T., right? Wrong. This movie has many more themes, all - like E.T. - conveyed with heart and a richness that so many movies today lack. The characters - including the giant, Hogarth, his mother, local beatnik Dean, and paranoid government agent Manley - are so much more human than most non-animated characters in films today. The style and animation are beautifully nostalgic, well-suited to the 50's era in which the story takes place. The writing is flawless, from the dialog to the film's broad themes. The laughs are genuine, the tears are genuine, everything about this film is, well, genuine.

Please ignore all the commercials that make you want to avoid this movie. Please ignore the fact that "it's just a cartoon" (a sentiment that I hear all too much). Please ignore the fact that it's tanking at the box office. Just see this movie. It deserves to be seen. And you deserve to be treated to such a great movie after tolerating all the crap that's been coming out recently. And drag your girlfriend, too.


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