E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In a California forest, a group of alien botanists collect flora samples. When government agents appear on the scene, the aliens flee in their spaceship, mistakenly leaving one of their own behind. The scene shifts to a suburban home, where a 10-year-old boy named Elliott is trying to hang out with his 16-year-old brother Michael and his friends. As he returns from picking up a pizza, Elliott discovers that something is hiding in their tool shed. The creature promptly flees upon being discovered. Despite his family’s disbelief, Elliott lures the alien from the forest to his bedroom using a trail of Reese’s Pieces. Before he goes to sleep, Elliott realizes the alien is imitating his movements. Elliott feigns illness the next morning to stay home from school and play with the alien. Later that day, Michael and their five-year-old sister Gertie meet the alien. They decide to keep him hidden from their mother. When they ask it about its origin, the alien levitates several balls to represent its solar system and then demonstrates its powers by reviving a dead plant.

At school the next day, Elliott begins to experience a psychic connection with the alien, including exhibiting signs of intoxication due to the alien drinking beer, and he begins freeing all the frogs in a biology class. As the alien watches John Wayne kiss Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man, Elliott kisses a girl he likes.

The alien learns to speak English by repeating what Gertie says as she watches Sesame Street and, at Elliott’s urging, dubs itself “E.T.” E.T. reads a comic strip where Buck Rogers, stranded, calls for help by building a makeshift communication device, and is inspired to try it himself. He gets Elliott’s help in building a device to “phone home” by using a Speak & Spell toy. Michael notices that E.T.’s health is declining and that Elliott is referring to himself as “we”.

On Halloween, Michael and Elliott dress E.T. as a ghost so they can sneak him out of the house. Elliott and E.T. ride a bicycle to the forest, where E.T. makes a successful call home. The next morning, Elliott wakes up in the field, only to find E.T. gone, so he returns home to his distressed family. Michael searches for and finds E.T. dying in a ditch and takes him to Elliott, who is also dying. Mary becomes frightened when she discovers her son’s illness and the dying alien, just as government agents invade the house. Scientists set up a medical facility there, quarantining Elliott and E.T. Their link disappears and E.T. then appears to die while Elliott recovers. A grief-stricken Elliott is left alone with the motionless alien when he notices a dead flower, the plant E.T. had previously revived, coming back to life. E.T. reanimates and reveals that his people are returning. Elliott and Michael steal a van that E.T. had been loaded into and a chase ensues, with Michael’s friends joining them as they attempt to evade the authorities by bicycle. Suddenly facing a dead end, they escape as E.T. uses telekinesis to lift them into the air and toward the forest.

Standing near the spaceship, E.T.’s heart glows as he prepares to return home. Mary, Gertie, and “Keys”, a government agent, show up. E.T. says goodbye to Michael and Gertie, as Gertie presents E.T. with the flower that he had revived. Before entering the spaceship, E.T. tells Elliott “I’ll be right here”, pointing his glowing finger to Elliott’s forehead. He then picks up the flower Gertie gave him, walks into the spaceship, and takes off, leaving a rainbow in the sky as Elliott (and the rest of them) watches the ship leave

REVIEW:

Over the years I’ve been doing this blog, I’ve reviewed some films that have been pretty well-known, some that have gone on to become huge hits, some that are supremely obscure, and some classics that as soon as you mention the name, it takes you back to feeling you had when you first saw it, be it in the theater, home, or other. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is one of those films.

What is this about?

Steven Spielberg’s 1982 smash hit tells the heartwarming story of the special bond 10-year-old Elliot (Henry Thomas) forges with an alien he names E.T. The adventures they share as Elliot tries to hide his new friend and E.T. tries to get back to his planet (“E.T. phone home!”) provide plenty of action, laughter and tears.

What did I like?

Connection. As we settle in and get to know and laugh at E.T. as he stumbles around trying to figure out the way things work and if there is a way he can use these crude inventions to help him contact his home plane. He and Elliot, played by Henry Thomas, develop a bond that is so deep that they can feel each other’s feeling. This is best on display during the frog scene where E.T. is watching something, I forgot what, drinking beer, and letting his feeling flow through Elliot, which culminates is his kissing a young Erika Eleniak (future “Baywatch babe”). A downside to the connection is that as E.T. appears to die, he turns white and everything, Eliot gets really sick. I’ll go more into that in a little bit.

Music. Anytime you get a score from one of the best film score composers of all time, John Williams, you’re sure to get something great and memorable. The score he came up with for this film is no exception, but it is the majestic way he mixes the score with what is happening on screen. This is no more obvious than in the flying scene. The masterful way he builds up the theme as it climaxes just as the kids are in the center of the moon, as it were, is a thing of beauty!

E.T. This is a sci-fi film from the early 80s, so you can imagine that there are fantastic creatures to be seen, right? Well, other than E.T. and his species that appear at the beginning of the film, everyone else is human. However, the design of E.T. is great. The rumor is that this was Spielberg’s imaginary friend after his parents divorced. I wonder if I can parlay my imaginary friend from childhood into highly successful movie character. Aside from the great design, E.T. is also a character that we feel for. We want him to get home. We want him to not be caught by the kids’ mother or the government guys. There is a connection that he has with the audience that is developed in a very short amount of time.

Matters of the heart. When I was little, my dad went to Korea for a TDY assignment (he was in the Air Force). Aside from some Korean stuff, he brought my sister and I back E.T. plushes. Being the wanna be artist that I was at the time, I drew a heart on mine and also doused him in baby powder. The powder came off easily, but to this day, he still has the heart drawn on him. Why did I try to turn him white? Well, in what is the most emotional scene of the film, E.T. and Henry Thomas’ character are caught by the government and, because of his apparent sickness, being studied. E.T. appears to be getting worse, as his skin has turned from slimy brown to dried out white. After a few moments, he apparently dies. When this happens, you can just feel the life sucked out of the room and a tear comes your eye. Talk about a powerful scene!

What didn’t I like?

Change. I happen to have the 20th Anniversary DVD. What is wrong with that? Well, there are scenes that E.T. is CG. I am never going to be a fan of CG, especially when it is added in as this is. E.T. was animatronic and, in some scenes, I believe someone in a puppet suit. As bad as the CG E.T. was, and trust me, it is bad…noticeably bad, the fact that someone decided to take the guns away from the cops later in the film and replace them with walkie-talkies is just stupid! Yes, I said walkie-talkies. Our society has become so squeamish that these days if someone is smoking it adds a rating to a film, i.e. PG becomes PG-13, at one point they were talking about taking the twin towers out of any and all films featuring New York City, etc. UGH!!!! Well, apparently, they changed the guns to walkie-talkies because…well, I don’t really know, but it makes no damn sense to me! Thankfully, though, Spielberg listened to the backlash about this and for the 30th anniversary edition the guns are back.

Drew. Making her debut is 8 yr old Drew Barrymore and she is cute as a button. That is the problem. A very small problem but, as is the problem with many child actors, it is hard to see her as a young ‘un compared to the gorgeous hottie she grew up to be.

When all the dust is cleared, the credits have rolled, and E.T. has gone home, what did I ultimately think of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? I think you would be hard pressed to find a better film for the whole family. There have been many duplicators, imitators, and what not, most notably Mac and Me, but none came anywhere near the quality of this great classic. Do I recommend? Yes! Emphatically, I say this is a film that you must see before you die!

5 out of 5 stars

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2 Responses to “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”

  1. […] on Harry and the Hendersons? There was a time in the mid 80s where everyone was trying to rip off E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial. In some ways, this could be considered another of those, storywise…also probably the better […]

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