The Iron Giant is a movie that I can watch time and time again and never tire of. This one sits high on a pedestal with The Little Mermaid and Lilo & Stitch as one of my favorite animated features. I am going to skip spoiler warnings here because, well, if you haven’t seen this by now, then shame on you.
A lone man in a boat in the middle of a terrible storm with hulking waves thrashing him from side to side cries desperately into a radio for help. As he is starting to lose hope, he glances up and spots an illumination in the sky. Saints be praised! It’s a lighthouse!
A brief moment of rejoicing is quickly extinguished by terror when he realizes that this light is no safe haven, but they eyes of a towering metal man.
Miraculously, the man makes it out of this little pickle alive and goes to the local diner where he tells everyone his tale. With guffaws of disbelief, his audience implies that what the man saw came from the bottom of a bottle, if you catch my meaning.
At a nearby table, a wide-eyed Hogarth Hughes (Eli Marienthal) is listening to the man’s story. Also listening in is Dean McCoppin who is voiced by Harry Connick Jr. He peeks over the wall to vouch for the man, only to be laughed at as well.
Single mom to Hogarth, Annie Hughes (Jennifer Aniston), is hard at work waiting tables. Hogarth and Dean meet and are fast friends. Dean is a cool cat and is always calm and collected. Hogarth has a wild imagination and while he would love to do what his mother asks of him, he manages to do the opposite quite often.
Hogarth is home alone that night while mom works late. The curious young man ventures out into the night to investigate suspicious activity and is awestruck to find the same humongous metal man from earlier. Incredibly, Hogarth saves the iron giant from doom.
The following day, Hogarth bikes off to the woods in an attempt to find this new friend. He places a piece of sheet metal, the giant’s favorite snack, out as bait. After dozing off, he is awoken by a loud noise. The metal is gone. He turns around to see that he has done what he came to do. Afraid at first, Hogarth runs, but quickly realizes that the iron giant means him no harm.
Hogarth must teach his metal friend, voiced by Vin Diesel that guns are bad and that he doesn’t have to be one, even though he is equipped with some major fire arms. Without a place to hide him and no food for him to eat, Hogarth takes the iron giant over to Dean’s pad. Dean is an artist who deals mostly with large metal sculptures. “I mean, what am I? A junkman who makes art or an artist who sells junk? You tell me.” So you see, he has lots of metal sitting around. Perfect for snacking.
Meanwhile, after reports of spotting the giant, a call is made and fast-talking government agent Kent Mansley (Christopher McDonald) rushes right over to get to the bottom of things. With his initial disbelief, Kent spends his time making quips about the small town. Gems like “The biggest thing in this town is probably the homecoming queen.” After a close encounter with a car that appears to be bitten in half, Kent catches on to the situation. He knows that Hogarth is hiding the iron giant and won’t stop until he is discovered and destroyed.
The movie is full of funny and endearing moments. A couple personal favorites include the scene in which Hogarth, Dean, and the iron giant go swimming. When the giant robot does a cannonball into the lake, hilarity ensues. The heart-to-heart scene that Hogarth has with the iron giant about death is also heart-warming. “Souls don’t die.”
When eventually the iron giant is discovered by the government, despite Hogarth’s best efforts to tell them that he is harmless, Kent insists that they blow him to smithereens anyway. Hogarth tries to get a handle on the situation, but Kent — in a fit of madness — presses the obligatory big red button and launches a bomb that will destroy the giant, the town, and everyone in it.
When it seems that all hope is lost, the iron giant bids his buddy Hogarth a fond farewell, shoots off into the sky, and collides with the bomb, saving everyone from certain death.
Flash-forward. Annie and Dean are admiring what she says is his best work yet. A sculpture of the iron giant. Hogarth is given the only piece of the giant that was recovered, and is delighted when it lights up and jumps out the window. He knows the iron giant can self-repair and waves goodbye, hoping he’ll see the iron giant again someday.
Sweet. Funny. Touching. I really can’t say enough good about this movie. I double dog dare you to make it through this one with dry eyes.