Thursday, July 3, 2014

Earth to Echo doesn't quite repeat the charm of E.T.

Movie Title:  Earth To Echo
PG, 1 hour 29 minutes

Grade:  C

In a Nutshell:  This tween flick feels like an attempt at remaking E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial or even Super 8 with The Goonies (1985) , but not as magical and charming as any of those.  Relativity producers could learn a lesson from Spielberg.  Even the ad imitates the beloved E.T. movie poster.

The film takes some misfit kids on a scavenger hunt to help an extraterrestrial find the pieces he needs to rebuild his spaceship and return home.  While that’s not exactly an original script, it’ll feel fresh to little ones who haven’t yet experienced the better movies I just mentioned.

The movie is shot from the homemade perspective of one of the boys who is using his camcorder, so much of it is shaky and may cause motion sickness.   Remember Cloverfield ?  (That made me so dizzy I thought I was going to throw up.)  Sony HD cams get the spotlight on product placement in this flick.

Uplifting theme:  
  • “Having a friend light years away taught us that distance is just a state of mind.” – Tuck
  • Kids can do anything.  In the beginning of the movie, Tuck shakes his head in dismay and says “you have no power to stop ‘cuz you’re just a kid.” By the end, he and his friends feel empowered to do anything.

Things I liked:
  • They did a good job using technology to address how kids today spend their lives.  They follow a map that appears on their combined smartphones, and then they do Google searches for things like “weird barf shapes on my phone.”   
  • Echo is pretty doggone cute. 
  • There are some cool special effects, like when Echo makes an oncoming truck disassemble in air so that the kids aren't hurt.

Things I didn’t like:
  • The acting was really terrible.  I really wanted to fall in love with the kids, but it just felt like they were auditioning for a school play.
  • How convenient that the alien understands English.
  • The kids steal their older brother’s car and take it for a joy ride without a license or training.  Thanks for putting that idea into millions of pre-teens’ heads.
  • Of course, the kids in the movie are smarter than the bumbling, idiot adults. 
  • The kids are unhappy because they’re being forced out of their homes so that a freeway could be built in the area.  They rant and rave as if that’s completely inhumane, but in reality, their parents are being paid for their properties.
  • Tuck states “Our whole lives we’ve been invisible…the good kids.  Not anymore.”  Again, thanks for putting that great idea out there for kids to emulate.
  • The kids cheer wildly in the predictable ending “We did that!”  Um no, Echo did.

Interesting lines:
  • Tuck tells his bros that he kissed a cute girl.  When they find out he really didn’t, he explains “It’s aspirational thinking…you’re thinking one thing and living it the next.”  Hmmm…has he been reading the book The Secret ?

Funny lines:
  • “I need an Advil.”  - Mudge
  • “Did your phone barf?” – Tuck
  • “I think mannequins are hot.”  - Mudge
  • Why don’t you just play with your super rich friends and eat steak or something.”  - Alex
  • The kids go into a bar and one of them says “Look old!”

Tips for parents:   Young kids will probably enjoy this movie, especially if they’ve never seen E.T.  They love to watch other kids become heroes and do things adults think they can’t do….or defy them to do.  The language is clean and the script is mostly harmless.

Now, if you want to introduce your kids to some classics, help them discover the following:
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