tek's rating:

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (PG)
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This came out in 1982, when I was 6 years old. It's probably the movie I most associate with director Steven Spielberg. I don't think I saw it in a theater, but I definitely saw it sometime in my youth, on TV or VHS or something. At the time of its release, it was the highest-grossing film ever, and it's still considered one of the greatest science fiction films ever made. Which makes it kind of ironic that Atari's video game based on the movie is considered, quite rightly, to be one of the worst video games ever made. But of course there was plenty of other merchandising. I vaguely remember having a board game based on the movie, though I'm afraid that's long gone. But I did keep one piece from the game, a figure of E.T. himself, which came with a plastic "ghost" sheet like the costume he wore when trick-or-treating in the movie. I'm pretty sure I must still have that figure somewhere. I also have an empty bag of Reese's Pieces with a picture of E.T. on it, which must have come out during a rerelease of the movie, years later. And um... I remember in elementary school people referring to an overhead projector as "E.T." because of its long neck. (That has no real bearing on this movie, but I felt like sharing.)

Watching the movie in 2020, I was struck by how much I didn't remember about it. Probably the first scene I actually did remember was Elliott luring E.T. to his room with Reese's Pieces, but a fair amount actually happened before that. It begins with a group of men out searching the woods, apparently looking for aliens that had landed there. Most of the aliens make it back to their ship before the humans can find them, and they wait as long as they can for one more of the crew to make it back, but finally they have to leave without him. The alien manages to hide from the men, but he's later discovered by a young boy named Elliott, though his family doesn't believe him. This includes his mother, Mary (Dee Wallace, with whom I would much later become familiar on Just Add Magic), his older brother, Michael, and their younger sister, Gertie (Drew Barrymore). We don't see the kids' father, since he had recently divorced their mother. Anyway, Elliott later goes out looking for the alien again, and finds him in a corn field. After initially being scared, he later returns and as I said, lures him to his house with candy. Not too long after that, he shows the alien (who doesn't seem to speak) to Michael and Gertie. The three of them protect the secret of his presence there as best they can, but there are still people out searching for the alien (whom the kids have taken to calling "E.T."), and track him to their house.

Well, there are a number of things aside from Reese's Pieces, and E.T. having an extendable neck, that I did remember, of course. There's the scene where Elliott cuts his finger, and E.T. heals it with a touch. There's the famous phrase "E.T. phone home," when the alien finally does learn some English, and wants to build a device to contact his people. There's the fact that E.T. dresses as a ghost to go out trick-or-treating with Elliott and Michael. (Mary thinks it's Gertie under the sheet.) But actually they weren't going trick-or-treating, they were using that as a way to sneak him out to a spot in the woods where he could set up his device and send a signal out into space. There's the scene where E.T. levitates the bicycle he's riding on with Elliott, and the iconic image of them passing in front of the Moon (which became the symbol of Amblin Entertainment). What else? Oh, of course there's some iconic music by John Williams. And... well, I think I'm jumbling this whole review, and probably there are things I shouldn't mention. But there are also more things I didn't remember, like the link between Elliott and E.T., where they each feel what the other is feeling. And the fact that E.T. eventually gets very sick. It's not long after that that the government people finally sort of invade the house and take E.T. away, as well as Elliott. (I had forgotten they took him too.) But one thing I didn't forget so much as get completely wrong is that in my memory, the government people were entirely bad guys. But in fact, rewatching the movie, I was surprised to find they're more like good guys, and try to save E.T.'s life when he's dying. And the main government guy- identified only as "Keys" because of a key ring he always wears- is very sympathetic to both Elliott and E.T.

And... I don't really want to spoil any more of the movie. But there are a lot of really funny parts, and a lot of heartstring-pulling, and ultimately a happy ending (with a rainbow, even). I guess there are plenty of themes in the movie that could be discussed at length, but I don't really feel like doing so. I'm just glad to find there's more to it than I remembered. And of course the movie has had a massive lasting cultural impact. Many years later, members of E.T.'s species are seen as background characters in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, which makes one of the gags from this movie even funnier in retrospect. And in 2019, Xfinity released a 4-minute Christmas commercial / short film in which an adult Elliott is visited by E.T. That was pretty cool. And I feel like there's so much more I should say, but I'm not sure what.

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