Written by / 6/19/2013 / 2 Comments / , , , , , ,

STEVEN SPIELBERG'S E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL THEATRICALLY REVISITED

year: 1982 rating: ****
“Children are great – if their moms don't get too involved!” actress Dee Wallace wrote in a Cult Film Freak interview. “They trust, connect, and are always in the moment. I love working with kids… And dogs!”

Dee's single mom, Mary, has three terrific kids and one friendly dog (unlike her CUJO antagonist a year later) in the Steven Spielberg blockbuster E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL, and having the chance to watch this once again, on the big screen, it still holds up: The more deservingly heartfelt moments are subtler in re-watching... And while the searing, melodramatic ending drags on way too long... E.T. dying slowly after government agents infiltrate the house of Henry Thomas’s young Elliott... some of the less contrived tear jerking and/or endearingly memorable moments are when E.T. responds quietly to little sister Gertie's initial fear...

Dee & Henry
Or the freeing of doomed frogs inside class after E.T. gets plastered on Coors beer and Elliott, experiencing the same feelings while the drunken alien watches a John Wayne flick in the family room, smooches the hottest girl in school (future BAYWATCH, CHASERS and UNDER SIEGE hottie Erika Eleniak, who autographed the vintage LP above).

We all know the main story: a flying saucer lands in a forest bordering the suburbs and, after the ship takes off, one alien is left behind. He’s soon discovered and eventually befriended by a young lonely kid who, even surrounded by his older brother's smart allecky cohorts… playing poker like world-weary grownups… Elliot has no one to call a real friend.

The Novelization
Some of the best moments occur in the build-up: boy and alien initially connect thanks to Reese’s Pieces (when product placement didn’t seem as obnoxious)…And then as Elliott lets his older brother, played by scene-stealing/Yoda-impersonating Robert MacNaughton, and an adorable Drew Barrymore into the big secret mom can’t know...

It's during this in-house ruse that director Steven Spielberg, fresh from the rip-roaring success of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and having established himself a space alien guru for his CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, never misses a suspenseful beat. But with so much fun going on, it's too bad E.T. and Elliott get ill so quickly... Right after a terrific Halloween sequence both set out with a Texas Instruments Speak & Spell, an attempt to "Phone Home," and the decline begins...

The movie can get corny but the yanked heartstrings don't hinder the film's steady pace. Henry Thomas was one of the great child actors, expressing every emotion possible while not coming across as an overly trained Hollywood brat.

Infamous Atari Video Game
And as mentioned earlier, the only drawback is the end, as Elliott and E.T. lay dying for what seems like an eternity... but that’s more than made up for during the iconic escape sequence resulting in the kids riding, and then flying, their bikes away from gun-wielding FBI agents.

“This is reality, Greg,” Elliott tells his brother’s more dimwitted pals after the suggestion that E.T. simply beam himself aboard the ship. And that’s what makes this magical film so timeless: It still seems very real and is more than just another heartwarming science-fiction fantasy.

“I knew it was special,” Dee Wallace wrote… And when asked if she had a feeling (during filming) of the success E.T. would garner, becoming the number one box office champ of all time until Spielberg's JURASSIC PARK made that record extinct, she finished with: “No! The public makes a hit. You do your best and hope.”
Future OUTSIDERS star C. Thomas Howell rides behind Henry Thomas
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2 comments:

  1. You know I still have not seen this movie after all these years. I remember when it came out it seemed a little too much for younger kids and a bit silly. For a long while when I would mention I hadn't seen E.T. people eyed me skeptically like I was a disease carrier. My current group of friends give me the evil eye for a completely different movie that I haven't seen, THE GOONIES. They look at me like I'm untrustworthy. The fact that I had never seen E.T. they just shrug their shoulders.

    Great review. And hey, I LOVED Reese's Pieces.

    ReplyDelete
  2. on a side note: Steven Spielberg and aliens...

    I loved CLOSE ENCOUNTERS - the original theatrical release. Not all the other various versions afterward.

    After the last Indiana Jones movie I have perma-banned myself from ever going to see another Steven Spielberg movie. Aliens and Indiana Jones don't mix. Why freaking aliens? Sigh.

    Love the reviews. Keep 'em coming.

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