E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

Recommended

105 min. minutes | Rated PG

In the opening years of the Reagan era, as the last gasps of the '70s expired at the cinema, the (at the time) biggest blockbuster in history opened. It was the story of a broken suburban family, abandoned by their patriarch, hoping to find a new center to hold them together. This premise wasn't new—especially not for the film's director, Steven Spielberg who would use parental abandonment and suburbia-in-peril as defining themes for the rest of his career. What was new? The insertion of a genial, monosyllabic walking booger as that center. In those still-starry-eyed early days of the '80s, the wounded optimism of E.T. the Extra Terrestrial resonated so strongly that the same people who willingly believed a cognitively deficient ex-actor could lead them to prosperity and enlightenment eagerly ate up the (somehow more realistic, in hindsight) fantasy. Removed from that time, the film betrays its cloying and nakedly manipulative nature. But due to the performances from its child actors, Carlo Rambaldi's work on E.T himself, and the all-timer of a score by John Williams, it still works, and the wetness on your cheeks as the credits begin rolling will be the proof.

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Film Credits
Director
Steven Spielberg
Cast
Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Robert MacNaughton, Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote