Acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorcese takes his first shot at family filmmaking with Hugo, an enchantingly imaginative, artistically dazzling, and emotionally involving work that stands among the very best movies of the year. I knew nothing about the story going in; I simply knew that word of mouth was strong. Allow me to do you a favor and not divulge anything about the plot (I've even posted a trailer that gives precious little away), as the mysteries and character arcs are best enjoyed layer by layer as they unfold.
I can say that one sees almost immediately the touch of a master artist's hand. Scorcese has crafted one of only a small handful of movies that is absolutely worth seeing in 3D. The production design (sets, wardrobes, props) on this film is exquisite, capturing 1930's Paris in lavish detail that is brought out by creative 3D cinematography. If the film has one flaw, it's that it's too in love with its own artistry early on and the first act moves too slowly as a result. This is a minor trifle; better to be slowly paced early on than towards the end, and as the story picks up, the wonderful ensemble cast is given ample opportunity to work their comedic, romantic, and dramatic magic. The musical score is lovely: it's the first this year that I want to purchase in full. Hugo represents a celebration of imagination, optimism, and fun; it's a dream for cinema lovers and will be very enjoyable for others. Amidst the soulless fluff released week after week, it stands out as a reminder that attention to craftsmanship, storytelling, and characters will always trump empty spectacle. Hugo made me think, made me laugh, moved me, dazzled my eyes, and left me with a big fat grin on my face. It is not to be missed in theaters.
CONTENT OVERVIEW: Hugo is rated PG. It has a couple of very mild innuendos. There are a few intense moments, but no violence, sexuality, or foul language.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: Love casts out fear. Stealing is wrong, and has consequences. Drinking can be addictive and damaging to one's health. We all had talents and strengths; happiness comes in applying them.
Jonathan Decker is the clinical director of Your Family Expert. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, husband, and father of five. Jonathan earned a masters degree in family therapy from Auburn University as well as a bachelor's degree in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University. He is an actor, author, and television personality.