The Iron Giant | Chicago Reader

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Rated PG · 86 minutes · 1999

Animation, Fantasy
Like many children's movies of its era, this feature-length animation (1999) by writer-director Brad Bird (The Incredibles) is a knockoff of E.T., but it's a likable and imaginative one. Set in a small town in Maine in 1957, it features a nine-year-old hero and his friend, a 50-foot extraterrestrial robot with a big appetite for metal and a peaceful, playful nature that turns threatening only when the paranoia of grown-ups activates its destructive possibilities. Adapted by Tim McCanlies from the book by British poet Ted Hughes, the movie is enjoyable in part because of its flavorsome period ambience and its lively and satiric characters—especially a beatnik sculptor and a government agent voiced respectively by Harry Connick Jr. and Christopher McDonald—though its graphic and dramatic virtues are nothing to sneeze at either. Some of the other voices are furnished by Jennifer Aniston, Eli Marienthal, Vin Diesel, Cloris Leachman, John Mahoney, and M. Emmet Walsh.

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