'Astro Boy': When Animated Movies Go Too Far!

Okay, I will admit, I am the first one to be sucked in by cool CG animation and a star-studded cast. Astro Boy definitely fit that bill, so I took my 5- and 7-year-olds to see it on opening day. Maybe I give stars too much credit, assuming they can decipher between a well-written kids' flick and something that may send inquisitive youngsters to therapy.

One of my biggest pet peeves is that the main characters in most children’s movies often lose a parent. I mean, hello, they shot Bambi’s mom in cold blood. Astro Boy, however, took it one step further, a feat I would not have imagined possible until I saw it on the big screen. In Astro Boy, they had the gall to kill off the main character -- a young boy in elementary school.

I’m serious, Astro Boy, which is based on an anime story that dates back to WWII, killed off not the parent, but the child. Before following the movie on its Pinocchio-esque journey, the viewers must uncomfortably watch a father grieve the loss of his son, and experience the crushing guilt brought on by not having been a doting dad when he had the chance. Did I pay to see Terms of Endearment, or a movie whose trailer implied it would be about a robotic child superhero? I could have used some Kleenex.

I watched the flick hoping that my children, who are already asking esoteric questions about life and death, wouldn’t dwell on the movie’s gloomy start. Thankfully, there were enough action scenes to distract them from the emotionally charged premise. To counteract any morbid thoughts, I rushed them from the theater to Baskin Robbins, knowing the most pressing question would be, “Mint chocolate chip or French vanilla?”


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