Saturday Movie Review – “E.T.”

The Saturday movie reviews continue. This week, it’s
the recent re-release of E.T. that we’re

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Henry Thomas as Elliot

Robert MacNaughton as Michael

Drew Berrymore as Gertie

Dee Wallace as Mary

Peter Coyote as Keys

Erika Eleniak as the Pretty Girl in class

Written by Melissa Mathison

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Complete information is available from the

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Past movie reviews can be found here.


An alien botanist is stranded on Earth and befriended
by a young boy.
Unfortunately, he’s not well adapted to long stays on
our world.

High Point

The getaway sequence. Everything from “I’ve never
driven forward
before!” to the landing was just great fun.

Low Point

CGI E.T. is jarringly inconsistent with the original
version. The
face work was fine, but replacing the entire body was
a mistake.

The Scores

It’s an alien invasion story with a benevolent alien
who just wants to
go home. No threats, no warnings, no attack vessels,
just too much
curiosity and not enough time to get back to the ship.
How’s that for
original? I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects were better before they got
fixed. The stiffness
in the original helped give the audience the
impression that he didn’t
belong here, and that simply moving was an effort. It
told us
immediately that he’d eventually have to go home. Now
we have scenes
like the bathroom scene, with a highly mobile CGI E.T.
that not only
fails to impress us with the strain of simple
existence, but actually
stands jarringly distinct from the unmodified scenes.
Trying to “fix”
things just ended up breaking things that weren’t
really that broken.
There aren’t many of these scenes, but boy to they
stand out. I give
it 4 out of 6.

The story is well told, with various hints
and indications of
what’s coming scattered throughout. Spielberg even
used the set to
tell the story, with E.T. finding refuge in a foggy
back yard, which
looks much like the interior of his craft. The
dialogue is good, and
engaging, but I swear that you could watch this movie
on mute and
still know exactly what’s going on, who the characters
are, and what
they need to do, just based on the strength of the
visuals. I give it
5 out of 6.

The acting was good, particularly considering
the age of the
cast. (In fact, the kids did a better job than their
mother!) All of
the children were convincing, while the adults were a
little more
distant. I have to wonder if that was deliberate,
since it helps the
audience identify with the children and root for them
instead of the
adults. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response is great. You care
about the
characters, and you want E.T. to find his way home.
The home invasion
is genuinely scary, and the getaway is just plain fun.
I give it 6
out of 6.

The production, as you probably could have
guessed from the
“story” category’s comments, is excellent. We’ve got
a strong visual
backbone holding this together, with the pacing,
editing, lighting,
camera, and musical score required to bring it all
together. I give
it 6 out of 6.

Overall, this is a really good movie. It’s
also an anomoly
among the family films. I worked at a theater for
three years while
in school, and we always asked the patrons what they
thought of the
movie on their way out of the theater. With most
“family” films, the
kids said it was great, but the adults would say
“well, the kids liked
it.” E.T. is different. The audience
reaction to this is
like the reaction to the best of Disney’s products:
the adults are
just as quick to call it great as the kids are. This
is what a
“family” film should be. The few movies that really
do entertain all
ages deserve some extra attention, and this is
definitely one of them.
Just make sure you watch the original theatrical
version. I give it 6
out of 6.

In total, E.T. receives 37 out of 42.

Next Week

Join us next week for a review of Earth Girls Are

2 replies on “Saturday Movie Review – “E.T.””

  1. The high point
    I think everyone agrees to what the high point is to this one :)

    I should mention John Williams’ score helps a lot here. One of his best works.

    • Re: The high point

      I think everyone agrees to what the high point is to this one :)

      Not necessarily everyone. By chance I saw the film in high school when it first hit town, largely because nothing else was happening that night. The hype hadn’t hit yet. We ran into some people we knew at a donut shop afterwards and had to explain what the movie was. About a week later, no one would’ve had to ask.

      Anyway, we enjoyed it, but one guy just shook his head at the getaway, especially the bikes against the moon: "F–kin’ Mary Poppins bulls–t!"

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