Film review: Kids, adults can revel in high-flying ‘Astro Boy’

I was around in the 1960s, but I do not recall seeing an “Astro Boy” episode. Nor, I might add, did
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I was around in the 1960s, but I do not recall seeing an “Astro Boy” episode. Nor, I might add, did I care.

Now, you may call me an “Astro Boy” virgin. But more to the point, here’s a movie that’s just plain fun. Despite its kiddie-pop title, it’s a decent product that should satisfy kids and parents alike.

You might even call it subversive entertainment with allusions to politics, musicals, movie comedies, fairy tales and even religion. Consider it a pop-culture allegory.

The story takes off with a horrible accident in the laboratory of Astro Boy’s dad, Dr. Tenma, voiced by Nicolas Cage. The victim is Toby, soon to be named Astro Boy, voiced by Freddie Highmore.

‘Astro Boy’

DIRECTED BY: David Bowers

WITH VOICES OF: Freddie Highmore, Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, Donald Sutherland, Bill Nighy, Eugene Levy, Nathan Lane, Samuel L. Jackson

RATED: PG

RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes

Alas, dad cannot restore his boy to life — that is, real life. Enter Toby as a robot, rejected by his sad father and pursued in space by the demonic forces of Blue, headed by Gen. Stone, voiced by Donald Sutherland. In an attempt to sway voters, the general’s campaign slogan is: “It’s Not Time for Change!” It’s an obvious and not-too-subtle slam at the Bush-Cheney administration, an allusion kids are unlikely to get.

They may recognize the allusions to the Pinocchio story when Astro Boy lands on Earth. Soon, the doctor’s only begotten son bands with a merry gang of ruffians headed by Hamegg, a Faginesqe father figure voiced by Nathan Lane. There are references to movies, such as “The Wizard of Oz.” I’ll leave you to decipher the others.

“Astro Boy” may be an old-time favorite, but as directed by David Bowers with a screenplay by Bowers and Timothy Hyde Harris, it arrives here as fresh, invigorating entertainment.

Farewell, “Transformers.” Welcome, “Astro Boy.”

Reach Dan DiNicola at [email protected]

Categories: Life and Arts

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