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Iron Giant

Every so often, another company will try to break Disney's stranglehold on the blockbuster animation movie. A movie like The King and I is not up to par, but a movie like 20th Century Fox's Anastasia clearly are. Warner Bros. joins the fray with the very worthy Iron Giant, based on Iron Man by British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, written in 1968 to comfort his children after the death of their mother.

The movie tells the story of a boy growing up in Rockwell, Maine who finds a giant robot that falls to Earth. Young Hogarth Hughes lives with his mother Annie (voiced by Jennifer Aniston from Friends - hey, you know this isn't a Disney movie because the mother of the main character is alive! Oddly enough, there is no father...) who works as a waitress. Hogarth saves the Giant at the beginning of the movie and is both terrified in and awestruck by the robot. Soon, they strike up a friendship, and the Giant ends up following Hogarth home. Hogarth realizes that he cannot keep the robot in his barn, so he takes him to McCoppen's Scrap Yard, run by Dean McCoppen (Harry Connick Jr.). Hogarth was not the only one who noticed the robot. The giant eats metal, and took bites out of many cars in the town, attracting government agent Kent Mansley (Christopher McDonald, who seems to pop up in most kiddie movies). He is extremely suspicious of the robot, and wants to destroy it. Hogarth and Dean try their darndest to protect the robot (voiced by Vin Diesel) from the government.

Iron Giant is the rare animated movie that does not condescend towards adults. It works on a variety of levels. Children will enjoy it for the story it is. Every boy dreams of having a robot. Iron Giant is a way to fulfill their fantasy vicariously through Hogarth. The story is easy to follow, the animation is crisp, and the characters are colorful and lifelike. Parents will enjoy it because it is a movie they can actually take their kids to, and enjoy. Director and writer Brad Bird (The Simpsons) has managed to fill the film with the xenophobia present in 1950s America and a sense of nostalgia. Mansley and is fearful that the robot may be something the Russian are responsible for. Hogarth's class watches Atomic Holocaust, a hilarious (at least to today's adults) film about what to do in case a bomb is dropped on the school. Hogarth also reads Action Comics (featuring Superman) and another comic called Red Menace. Rockville is the small American town present now only in old sitcom reruns. An aura of innocence pervades the entire movie, and the ending is sweet and magical without coming off as cheesy.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Good  
1 hour, 26 minutes, Rated PG for fantasy action and mild violence.

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