Today’s Prayer Focus
Oscar®Oscar® Winner for Visual Effects, Art Direction, Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing
Nominee for Best Picture, Directing, Writing (Adapted Screenplay), Costume Design, Music (original score), Film Editing


also known as “Hugo Cabret,” “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” “A Invenção de Hugo,” “A Invenção de Hugo Cabret,” “A leleményes Hugo,” “Hiugo,” See more »
MPA Rating: PG-Rating (MPA) for mild thematic material, some action/peril and smoking.

Reviewed by: Patty Moliterno

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Family Teens Adults
Family Adventure Mystery Adaptation 3D
2 hr. 7 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
November 23, 2011 (wide—1,200+ theaters)
DVD: February 28, 2012
Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation

orphans in the Bible

living a secret life

stealing / thieves

automatons, robots


Featuring Ben KingsleyGeorges Méliès
Sacha Baron CohenStation inspector
Asa ButterfieldHugo Cabret
Chloë Grace MoretzIsabelle
Ray WinstoneUncle Claude
Emily MortimerLisette
Christopher LeeMonsieur Labisseqq
Jude LawHugo’s Father
See all »
Director Martin Scorsese
Producer GK Films
Infinitum Nihil
See all »
Distributor Paramount Pictures Corporation

“Unlock the secret”

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

“Hugo” is based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. I read the book with my 8 year old son last year, and we both loved, loved, loved it. We couldn’t wait until the movie came out! We went to the midnight showing on opening day, and what we found far surpassed our expectations. The movie was directed by Martin Scorcese. It is his first PG movie in 18 years, but it is as if has been saving up for this ultimate moment. The film also features a cast of characters not usually seen in family movies.

Hugo, played by Asa Butterfield (“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”), is a young boy whose mother is dead. He is being raised by his father who is a clockmaker. His father works at a museum in Paris and finds a wonderful old mechanical piece. It is an automaton (self-operating machine) man. It is broken, but the boy and his father begin to fix it.

One day, Hugo receives a surprise visit from his drunk Uncle Claude who tells him there was a fire at the museum. His father is dead, and he is to come live at the train station and work with his uncle as a clock apprentice. The only item Hugo takes is the automaton.

After a while, his uncle does not come home, and Hugo secretly continues to care for the clocks in the train station. He is constantly stealing food to feed himself, while keeping out of the way of the Station Inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen). He also steals parts from the toy shop run by Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley) and befriends his goddaughter, Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz). Eventually, Georges catches Hugo stealing parts and makes him work at the toy store as repayment. Hugo never gives up his quest to repair the broken automaton, in the hopes that it will reveal a message from his father. When he finally repairs it, it leads him back to the unlikeliest source.

NEGATIVE CONTENT: This was one of the cleanest movies I have ever seen. There is absolutely no foul language. There is very little to be concerned about, as far as content. The Station Inspector does make a few suggestive comments. This is a man who is angry, bitter, lonely and dealing with a war injury. His comments include “when was the last time you had relations with her?,” “perfectly formed udders,” and “I’m a fully functioning man now” (when his leg is fixed). There is also a brief discussion of whether a man’s pregnant wife is carrying his child.

Hugo does steal to eat and fix the automaton. He also lies to protect himself. Hugo’s father dies in a fire, however, all that is shown on screen is his father opening a door and flames rushing down a hallway. His uncle is found dead in the river; very little is shown on screen. There are several chase scenes between Hugo, the Station Inspector and his Doberman. Hugo does have a scary dream that looks very real.

In clips shown of old films, there are dragons, mythical beasts, mermaids, etc. I did not find these to be scary at all. There are also scenes involving trains crashing through the train station.

POSITIVE CONTENT: This is the first 3D movie I have seen in over a year. I cannot stand to pay the additional money for a film when it is not necessary. I really enjoyed this film in 3D. This film was beautifully done. The quality of the filming is superb. The acting is great, and the visual effects are wonderful. I cannot say enough good things about this movie.

Hugo states “I had to be here for some reason, and that means you have to be here for some reason, too.” He holds onto that belief. However, be advised there is no indication that his belief is based on God’s teachings. As a Christian, I also believe I am created for a reason. The Bible says “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” —Ephesians 2:10.

The other thing that I find significant in this film is the machine itself. We believe that we are so advanced and so smart, however, the Bible does say “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” —Ecclesiastes 1:9. Early mechanical machines were made in Ancient Greece. There is a machine like the one in this movie at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia believed to date to 1800. I love watching films like this and then researching more. See the Franklin Institute for information about the automaton.

Additionally, Georges Méliès was a real French filmmaker. Ben Kingsley does a wonderful job of capturing Georges’ likeness.

I recommend this film for the whole family. Be advised that some children may find some scenes frightening, and there are periods of the movie that move slower than a traditional childrens film. I did not take my 7 year old for this reason. This is one of the nicest movies we have seen in a long time. A film that gets the family talking about history, inventions and God is a great one in my book!

Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—“Hugo” is one of the great entertainments in recent years, in addition to being one of director Scorsese’s best and most atypical films, to date. The 3D technique is unobtrusive and adds to the overall excellence of the production.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
Morris, age 48 (USA)
Positive—I agree with and applaud the review of this beautiful movie. I was so touched by the story and setting, that I watched it twice the same night in the theater. Thinking it was a children’s movie, I was not prepared for the depth of emotion it stirred in me. A man’s life work, long forgotten and cast off is redeemed in the most unlikely way. I was happy to find the story was loosely based on real-life French filmmaker, Georges Melies. This movie is a visual treat in 3-D, and I plan to buy it for home viewing when it is released in DVD. My 3 children, ages 21, 15, 11, watched it and enjoyed it on different emotional levels. Hugo is the most satisfying movie I have seen in many years.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
L. L. Lynn, age 53 (USA)
Positive—We went against the flow, and instead of going with the crowd to the midnight “Muppets” opening we opted for “Hugo”. I had not read the book, and I had no idea what to expect, but even if I had, the beauty of the cinematography was worth the admission. I was wowed at the opening scene. The characters were very well developed, acting was right on, story line was heartfelt and one I would never had expected-I think that was my favorite part! Plot meandered and dragged occasionally, but I didn’t notice until we left at 2:25 am, alone!

This is not for real small children-only because it is hard to explain emotions. Only one “Ify” conversation-that’s it! See this movie, it’s a beauty!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Dorell Proshek, age 51 (USA)
Positive—If I could give this movie 5½, I would. It is artistically a superlatively crafted and executed movie. I think this is Martin Scorcese’s best. (He makes a one second cameo appearance). I saw it in 3D, my first such experience, because there were no daytime shows in 2D at my theater, but 2D would have been just as good. A beautiful movie to watch, with a nice story.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Halyna Barannik, age 65 (USA)
Positive—I find it hard to review this movie, it was not like most children’s movies, in fact it really isn’t a children’s movie. Most young children will not understand the feelings and emotions put forth in this movie. It really is not suited for small children, there isn’t much action to interest them, evan as an adult I thought it rather slow moving.

I am glad I saw it, and I enjoyed it, but not in a, “wow that was great,” sense, but more of a reflective sense, like you would the view from the top of a mountain. My family is looking forward to watching some old movies now, as my children wondered if that was actually how movies were first made.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Kathleen, age 48 (USA)
Positive—I saw this movie tonight (in 3D) with my husband, while the kids were out of town. I assumed this was a kiddie movie and had planned to take them later, but it’s not, and I won’t. I think it’s great for about age 10-12+. The 3D version was very good. I commented to my husband that you can always tell when the 3D version is well-made, because you don’t realize you’re watching it. You become part of the movie. The 3D in this one definitely wasn’t an after-thought, like a lot of action movies seem to be.

The plot was a little slow in some places, and there was only one questionable conversation (heard over the phone, so it was one-sided, but ***spoiler*** you get the impression that a man’s wife has left him for another man and was carrying that man’s baby—she eventually returned to the husband as implied on another phone call ***end spoiler**).

Things that could be disturbing or inappropriate for younger viewers:

(1) Characters die (some with screen time and some implied by dialogue), and the children in the movie must deal with those emotions.

(2) There are a couple of scenes with burning buildings, a drunkard, and scenes from war. There are also repeated scenes of the “man in the moon” being shot through the eye.

(3) A couple of scenes are very intense only to be broken by the person waking up to realize it was a bad dream.

(4) Good, clean, courtship is seen by two adult couples, but it’s probably over the heads of young children. There is one quick kiss on the cheek by a younger character.

(5) Two orphans in the movie are seen several times stealing, and both end up in jail at different points in the movie after being chased down by an angry police dog.

(6) The vocabulary in the movie is (purposely) held to a high standard. There were a couple of words that even I (highly educated) didn’t know the meaning of, but within context, I could figure out. A younger child wouldn’t be able to do that and would lose the meaning of the scene.

(7) There are several scenes in which silent movie actresses are scantily dressed (think back to the swimsuits of yesteryear.)

Overall, I’d give it a thumbs-up… for teens and adults, that is.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Chrystal, age 35 (USA)
Positive—I wanted to take my 7-year old to a movie on Thanksgiving, but was very concerned about the content of any movie we chose. After seeing “Hugo,” I have no regrets. I thought this movie was fantastic, and so did my son. I’m a pastor (with a filmmaking degree… go figure) and was truly enchanted by the homage to the earliest days of film. “Hugo” resonates emotionally: the performances of the kids are a little mechanical in some sense, but the adults (Ben Kingsley, especially) are outstanding.

This is no shallow kid’s movie with some good actors in thankless roles. The look of this move is superb as well.

The only criticism, if it is one, is that, like virtually every 3D movie, after an hour, it doesn’t really stand out much. As far as the comment about “having relations” mentioned in the review, it was delivered in a very benign way (no “winking” or seedy overtones). The other comments didn’t even register (with me, anyway) as having any hidden meaning.

I rated it as average, biblically speaking, because nothing is addressed in a biblical way: the kid steals, the uncle drinks, children misbehave, etc., and that’s that. There are a number of hurting (“broken”) people in this movie, and Christ as the solution is never presented, which is “average” for Hollywood. Leaving the theater, I didn’t feel as if I had some damage control to do concerning my son.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Greg, age 51 (USA)
Positive—I recommend this film because it was well done and the, boy who fixes things sets out to fix Ben Kingsley as well as his automotron. The boy says in the movie that nothing has spare parts, and so he must believe that the world has no spare parts, and that he is needed or has a purpose. This reminds me of the scripture that says “the hand cannot say it has no need of the foot” we all need each other. If we disregard others we injure ourselves. We need to learn to come together as one body.

At times this movie is slow. I also can’t believe that a man would be that distraught over his movie business going under, so much so, that he destroys everything and breaks down when he hears anything about it. But, accepting the fact that this man does have this hang-up makes it very enjoyable to watch the progression of the movie. Also, the boy is slow to react. I think it is quite possible that a young man with his experiences could be this slow, but it doesn’t stop the annoyance, as we wait for him to say or do the right thing.

Another objection is that the main character, hero if you will, never admits that he is a thief. He was a thief. It bothers me when the less heroic acts of heroes are ignored by the hero. I understand his life, but at some point I would have liked to hear remorse, especially with my children sitting there.

These things having been said, it was a Great movie, go see it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Chris Ransom, age 45 (USA)
Positive—I thought the movie was the 3rd. Love the story; love the acting. Not everyday a movie like this comes along. We need more movies like this.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Tony Andrews, age 48 (Canada)
Positive—Hugo is one of the cleanest non-Christian, non-animated films you will ever see. The cinematography is an artistic feast for the eyes, especially in 3-D. In fact, it feels as though every scene was planned in part to take advantage of the 3-D effect. The story itself unfolds in a way that creates suspense without artificial assistance. Many seemingly insignificant details are introduced throughout the tale that become significant later. And all of the loose ends get tied up.

Although not a Christian film per se, it championed several Christian themes:

1. The importance of family. We see the importance to a child of having a father in the scene with Hugo and his father. His father instilled in him his identity, and a worldview of hope and self-confidence in the face of negative circumstances (“Can it be fixed?” “Of course it can be fixed, we’re clockmakers.”) The film then contrasts the fates of Hugo and Isabelle. Both become orphaned, but Isabelle still has a family because she is adopted by her godparents. That good fortune gives her provision, safety, schooling, and a sense of belonging, that Hugo does not have. This advantage is seen again when Isabelle recites poetry for the unrefined Inspector, who also grew up as an orphan. So important is family, that if we don’t have one, we create one, as Hugo did by adopting the automaton and the people he watched everyday who worked at the train station. Papa George’s decision to adopt Hugo is what rescues him at the end of the movie. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Tim Bittle, age 55 (USA)
Positive—I went to see this film with my husband and our 11 and 14 year-old daughters. I loved the movie, and my family enjoyed it, too. The story line, acting, and cinematography were excellent, and the fact that it had nothing offensive in it made it so enjoyable. I was very moved by this film. The brokenness of the people in this film was very emotional for me. It reflected the state of humanity and why we need Jesus. It also reflected the importance of having parents and family, and how we are all products of our broken/dysfunctional background and upbringing. I highly recommend this well-made film for families.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Clara, age 52 (USA)
Positive—I will be perfectly happy if this film wins the Oscar for Best Picture! It was a charming adaptation that stayed true to the book, which I also loved very much. I liked that it did not turn into the typical kids’ movie. Like the book, it stands on its own as an original classic. Everyone was well cast… especially Ben Kingsley!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)
Positive—One of the best movies I’ve seen this year—saw it with my junior high brother and sister. It’s a kids movie, but it has a lot of depth that will keep adults interested, as well. I love the theme-Hugo finding his place and purpose, and where he belongs. Really well made, good plot, awesome visuals, and clean; I saw nothing morally wrong with it. I would most certainly recommend this movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Jessi, age 21 (USA)
Negative—…I did thoroughly enjoy “Hugo,” and found it to be beautiful in a way contemporary film almost never is: poignant and heartfelt. But it is VERY dark in its message, which I believe is this: The universe is a Machine—a great mindless clock, if you will. We, too, are simply machines, and part of the overall Machine. While this can and does make us unhappy, if we can but find our purpose we can then be happy. This is a very brave and honest film, as it seems to want to face the philosophy of our age head-on. But it is also a religious work, as Hugo finds his salvation in the belief that the universe is a clock, a Machine with no (discernible) Designer, in which he can fit like a wheel or cog, and find happiness and meaning—a leap to make Francis Schaeffer’s [see “The God Who Is There”] look like a small hop.

(I assume the father Hugo longs for is a reference to the God who is dead for us now, whether or not he ever existed.) He BELIEVES that time and chance have produced a world of order, and that he has a purpose in it; and that his need for meaning will be fulfilled in the performance of that purpose. On what grounds? Others believe the ultimate reality of the universe is chaos… or that the universe is ordered, but because it has no Creator, our human longing for meaning, belonging and happiness is an unfulfillable anomaly.

The film, though intelligent and beautiful, was heavy and sad with it’s cold gray “reality,” and I would be careful about exposing children to it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Marian (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—The movie was very fun, and dramatic. And there was no magic in it. That’s all I have to say.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Fudge, age 11 (USA)
Positive—Hugo was a very clever film with great acting and amazing graphics. In my personal opinion, it was a little slow. It’s one of those films that you can only see one time and at certain parts was verging on boring. There wasn’t any objectionable content. No language or sex and nudity. The main boy is caught stealing a few times, but other then that, I would say it was a rather clean film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Aliya Mcreynolds, age 14 (USA)

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