Originally published in England as The Iron Man, this tale of a friendship between a boy and a giant robot was translated into a 1968 children's book by poet Ted Hughes and into a 1969 album by Pete Townshend and The Who. Those seeking a fresh alternative to the usual animated features filled with songs and silly sidekicks will find Brad Bird's film, from a screenplay by Tim McCanlies, to be both enchanting and morally satisfying.

The drama is set in 1957, the era of Sputnik and rampant paranoia about the Communists and aliens from outer space. Hogarth (voice by Eli Marienthal), a clever nine-year-old outsider, lives with his mother Annie Hughes (Jennifer Aniston), a waitress in the small town of Rockwell, Maine. One night a huge robot mysteriously descends from the skies into the nearby sea. Soon he has come ashore seeking to feed his voracious appetite for metal. While trying to chomp down parts of a power station, he is saved from electrocution by Hogarth. The boy becomes his secret protector and friend when an authoritarian and obsessed government agent, Kent Mansley (Christopher McDonald), arrives in town to find and destroy what he calls the "monster."

Families can't go wrong with a movie like this one. Through Hogarth's words and the gentle giant's self-sacrificing heroism it proclaims "Guns kill." Now there's a slogan you don't see or hear much about at the movies!