[Freddy Highmore, Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland]
When you go to a movie geared toward kids, its funny to hear how they react to the trailers before the movie. Apparently "Old Dogs" and "The Spy Next Door" are going to be big hits. The kids said they "...were definitely going to see those movies.".
Adapting the 1960s cartoon from overseas, "Astro Boy" is set in a futuristic floating paradise, Metro City, where a brilliant scientist creates a powerful robot to replace his lost son, Toby. Unable to deal with this carbon copy, Dr. Tenma rejects Toby who then embarks on a hero's journey to the world Metro City left behind. Toby is rechristened as Astro and eventually returns to Metro City to find his place in the world and find his place with his family.
Taking pages out of the screenplays for "iRobot", "Artificial Intelligence" and lighter kids fare like "Robots" and "Wall*E", this movie has visual appeal and a simple premise for the kids. Adults can find some little nuggets of tenderness with Astro's quest and friendships, and a few laughs (or at least smiles) with the robot trash compactor "dog". You can find deeper meaning in the fact that Metro City residents dump heaps of discarded robots to the Earth, but it certainly does not have the impact that it did from "Wall*E". But all in all, the movie is just not up to the standards we have come to expect from Pixar and Dreamworks films. Will kids know the difference? In this day and age, they very well might.
Just a word of advice to the movie makers, you can save plenty of money hiring character actors and voice-over specialists versus hiring an all-star cast. Neither kids nor adults have gone to see a cartoon or CGI film because of A-list actors in a while. I certainly didn't go see "Wall*E" because of name recognition.
Worth: Matinee and a DVD (for the kids)