Common Sense Note
Parents need to know that The Iron Giant has plenty of the kind of cartoon action that most kids love: a giant robot under attack; buildings, trains, and cars crashing; futuristic weapons firing; Hogarth, the boy hero, creeping through a dark forest looking for "trouble"; a boat caught in a storm; spooky music; and an arrogant, mean-spirited villain who threatens everyone and everything that's important. It also includes a poignant moment when a deer is shot. The filmmakers bring a point of view to the events, hoping to instruct, explain, and offer thought-provoking ideas through which kids can view the action (i.e. "guns kill," the collateral damage of paranoia, and taking responsibility for our choices). One character smokes a pipe throughout the movie, and one smokes a cigarette (accurate for the movie's '50s setting). "Hell" is said a few times, and Hogarth gives the villain a dose of laxative, which humorously results in trips to any bathroom he can find.
Cartoon action sequences throughout: Boat in a storm, man goes overboard but escapes; a huge robot (the Iron Giant, who turns out to be one of the film's heroes) eats metal, destroys a power station, and tromps across the landscape, chasing the young boy hero and frightening people. Sparks fly, buildings fall. A deer is shot and killed. The robot is hit by a train, threatened, and shot at countless times by a squadron of armed military personnel. To defend himself, the robot creates havoc with some spectacular shooting and firepower of his own. Some spooky music accompanies old black-and-white TV footage.
"Hell," is said three times; also an "omigod" and one "butt."
Positive messages about behavior, life values, and important issues. "You are what you choose to be" and "Don't care what anyone else thinks" are verbalized and illustrated several times. "Guns kill; things die; it's a part of life" is portrayed by the errant shooting of a deer, along with "Souls don't die; all good things go on forever and ever." The government's reaction to the Iron Giant reveals the paranoia and fear that were pervasive during the Cold War.
Mentions of Twinkies, Mad magazine, Action Comics, and Superman. Tie-in toys/products.
Drugs / Tobacco /
A secretary smokes a cigarette at her desk; a government official smokes a pipe throughout (accurate for '50s setting). A laxative is used to obstruct the progress of the movie's villain, with predictably humorous results (this plot line will probably go over the head of younger children).