Film Review: Hugo
I was actually holding off on watching this, my chapped vag lips quivering in anticipation of how special and magical it was, so I could feature it in It’s Not Shit.
Turns out Hugo kind of is shit.
TL;DR This movie was mostly boring, and confusingly aiming toward an adult audience. The sense of wonder did start to slip in near the end, but after 2 hours I was glad it was over. 2 out of 5 stars.
How dare I praise Alvin and the Chipmunks 3 and give Hugo a slap on the wrists? I am heartless.
To get straight to the point, Hugo never really felt like a movie for children. I know children/family movies have the ability to transcend age (like how mid 20-something females feel the need to binge on Disney movies for no reason), but everything here seems engineered to appeal to adults.
For example, Hugo and Isabelle (Chloe Moretz) are completely flat, uninteresting characters. Hugo’s only trait is that his daddy is dead. He literally has no other character development. It’s just “my daddy’s dead. I’m lonely. Clocks.” Do not care. Isabelle is even worse. Her only attribute is she likes books. And she’s an incredibly nosy, gullible dickhead.
On the other hand, Ben Kingsley’s George turns out to be, arguably, the main goddamn character. His story takes up the entire second half, and he is connected to everything. Doesn’t hurt that Ben Kingsley is a fuckin’ boss.
The themes here seem to be directed at adults, too. The loss of innocence, shattered dreams, the destructive power of war. These would be totally lost on kids, and there’s nothing else to really hold their interest. The movie doesn’t get anything close to interesting until about an hour in (when the Kingsley story kicks off), which is not okay for a family movie.
The real nadir as far as misdirected audience goes is Sacha Baron Cohen’s character Gustave. Playing the villain role (I guess. His antagonism of Hugo seems to be more of a mild inconvenience), Gustave is far more interesting and sympathetic than Hugo himself. He has a war wound which wrecks his self-esteem, but he still does his job (and he thinks he’s actually helping the orphans. Tough love or something) and tries to find a woman. Hugo just falls into Isabelle and George’s lap, then gets everything he wanted by sheer coincidence.
On the plus side, as I said, all the adult characters actually have stories that matter. They’re well acted and fleshed out. Even the ones that aren’t, like Emily Mortimer’s florist, feel warm and real. Probably something to do with the great Paris setting. Everything is so beautiful and romantic.
But the focus should have been on the kids, and they’re just not worth caring about at all.
Why I hate this movie:
It was boring, misrepresented by marketing, and aiming for the wrong audience.
Chloe Moretz sucks. She said “cunt” once in a Nicholas fucking Cage movie and that’s enough to make her a movie star? Fuck off.
Hugo (Asa Butterfeld) looks like a young Kodi Smit-McPhee (who looks like a fucking alien). Chloe Moretz certainly has a type.
It’s 2 hours long. No. Especially no for a kids movie.
Everyone has British accents, despite the fact they’re all French.
Also, in the climactic scene where Hugo convinces Gustave not to send him to the orphanage, Hugo explicitly (and I assume genuinely) says he needs to go get answers about what happened to his father. He doesn’t. The film just ends with Hugo living with Isabelle and George. We never find out why Hugo’s father died from a random fireball in a fucking museum.
Reasons to watch:
If you can stick it out past the first hour of nothing, George (and his wife’s) story is surprisingly deep and beautiful. This is a movie about movies, and it’s clear there’s a sincere appreciation and respect for pioneer filmmakers.
The sub plot between the woman at the cafe and the fat guy is sweet. They also have two long-haired dachsunds, which are cute as hell.
Maximillion (Gustave’s dog) is also cute as hell.
Christopher Lee is a scene-stealer as the book shop owner.
Gustave’s romantic sub-plot with Emily Mortimer’s character is affecting and adorable.
And the ending, while contrived and obvious, is truly heartwarming.
The whimsy comes too late, I’m afraid. A handful of great character moments and happy ending can’t save this tonally confused mess. 2 out of 5 stars.