The Short Version? Stand By mE.T.
What Is It? Sci-Fi Dramedy.
Who Is In It? That guy from that show and that guy from that other show and that girl who's the sister of Dakota Fanning.
Should I See It? Yeah.
My girlfriend asked if I wanted to see this movie, which was her way of telling me that we were going to see it, unless I was going to ruin her fun by making a stink. I said that I didn't not want to see this movie. I wouldn't make a point of seeing it, but I wasn't opposed to it, either, and so I did. It wasn't super great (Gene Shalit R.I.P., whenever you get around to dying already,) but it was totally okay, and I'm fine with that. If you expect better from J.J. Abrams, you're a fucking sucker, so I'm just happy this film exceeded the low bar he's set.
Most of the trailers were real mysterious like, and the movie has not a little of the cliché about it, so why spoil the fun in a review? You'll enjoy it better the less you know. It's Spielberg, so there are going to be aliens, suspense, and a bit of childlike wonder℠. It's J.J. Abrams, so there will be elements of conspiracy and a quality of television smallness. A train will derail while some kids are trying to make a zombie movie on the kind of film you had to develop at a Kodak center. It's set in 1979, although not a version I find 100% authentic, but close enough for secondhand nostalgia. I figure Abrams is a child of the '80s trying to mythologize an era the way his fore-bearers did with shit like The Wonder Years, but even Generation X lacks the full-blooded egocentricity that only the Baby Boomers could conjure up as the sheltered spawn of The Greatest Generation.
The script is dumb and full of conveniences without logic. There's a Paul W.S. Anderson level lack of regard for linear transition at times, and the flick is atonal as fuck. The adult characters are all assholes, and despite much effort, they never really redeem themselves in a way that resonates. It doesn't matter, because the kids are alright, and we all fall in love with Elle Fanning like we're supposed to (purely platonic, or Hanson sic balls.) You can spend the entire movie pointing out the obvious, arch influence of other movies, but it's still very well shot and nicely directed. It's a shaggy dog that's tough to hate and easier to like, so let's just do that.
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