Astro Boy

Stellar Performance or Astronomically Misguided?

I was excited to watch the new and improved, 21st century Astro Boy for nostalgic reasons alone, seriously—I could sing you a couple of bars of the original theme song right this minute. But this adventure turned out to be a bit more difficult than I expected. Apparently, the makers of this film had some kind of political agenda, although I’m not quite sure that even they knew exactly what it was. So, why not touch on a pile of the world’s problems all at once---racism, pollution, abuse, abandonment, euthanasia, war…to name a few. Just a bit heavy handed for a kid’s movie if you ask me.

(Spoiler alert)
What was actually of even more concern, however, was the bizarre and increasingly disturbing behavior of our star’s father. The brilliant scientist goes to incredible lengths to re-create his young son--who was killed in the first 10 minutes of the show. Wow. But when his creation—who, by-the-way, is infused with all his son’s own feelings and memories---behaves more like a kind, gentle child than his genius Toby, the father says, “You are not my son. I don’t want you anymore.” Whaat? This scary recreation of a scene from Artificial Intelligence and the fact that the boy/robot actually dies 3 different times, would make it a bit intense for most people, never mind a child audience. The adults consistently defend their cruelty and indifference by saying, “he’s just a robot,” or worse, “this will get me re-elected.” Yikes.

Motherly Advice: It may surprise you that I’m not suggesting you skip this movie entirely. There were some really fun, even magical moments—like when Astro first learns he can fly. And certainly it will keep your kids busy, for 90 minutes. But without adult interaction—throughout the movie—I fear young viewers will be left with the dangerous message that hurting others is perfectly ok, as long as the victim isn’t “one of us.”
On the other hand—with parental involvement, Astro Boy could be an important spring board for some valuable discussion on a variety of topics. Without it, I believe children may be simply left confused and I would hope, appropriately disturbed.
(Clearplay may not be needed depending on your sensitivity to the word “butt”…which is used twice. Also, two “humorous” non verbal insinuations of robots “purging” themselves from fear.)
Launi - Movie Mom and Astro Psychologist