E.T. is the story of a young boy named Elliott whose parent’s are going through a divorce. His world gets turned even more upside down when he befriends a sweet alien who was left behind during a routine visit to earth. Things quickly get tricky for Elliott as he attempts to hide E.T. from his family… and the government agents who are hot on the alien’s trail.
I was a young girl when E.T. came out and I still don’t recall any movie ever quite matching the excitement I felt after seeing this in the theater. The buildup was excruciating. What or who was this mysterious entity? Whatever it was, it was going to be on the cover of People and I could not wait for the big reveal. And then came the day when I finally got to see the film. I was the same age as Elliott (a pitch-perfect Henry Thomas) and I was immediately swept into his world. I laughed, I cried, I got the pants scared off me when the government goons crashed through the windows of Elliott’s house in their moon suits. And the agonizing goodbyes that took place after E.T. finally made it safely back to the spaceship and is about to leave? Forget about it!
I raced home and penned a sequel. Not only did I need to see more, I needed to be a part of it. I needed to find a way to nestle myself between Elliott, big brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton), little sister Gertie (an insanely adorable Drew Barrymore), and cool mom Mary (Dee Wallace). Then it hit me – I would write myself into the family as the new sister and devise a way for E.T. to return to his other “home.” He’d initially be afraid of my braces, but then we would become friends! Not only that, E.T. would get to bring some pals with him this time so everyone could have their own personal alien. Life lessons learned and happiness abound in my sequel. I wrote it up, licked a stamp and sent if off to Hollywood, assured that director Steven Spielberg would agree with my vision.
When I typed in “E.T.” with “People Magazine” numerous photos of Snooki showed up – hand to god! Actually, several baby photos from the publication appeared in the image search. One can only surmise the publisher of People thinks babies look like aliens.
And one day, there it was – an envelope from Universal Studios. I was on my way! I ripped it open and out fell all kinds of E.T. schwag. Amazingly, my three-page screenplay had not been accepted – but someone had been kind enough to enroll me as a member of the E.T. fan club. My disappointment that I was not going to be in the sequel (that would never be) was easily quelled by buttons, photos and a letter from the studio welcoming me to the inner E.T. circle.
My point in all of this? E.T. is a beautifully crafted film that comes along once in a kid’s lifetime – and I was lucky to be a child for this magical moment. Spielberg and screenwriter Melissa Mathison (ex-wife of Harrison Ford) deftly crafted a believable bond between Elliott and E.T. that became the indelible backbone for the story. What could’ve seemed far-fetched became heart wrenching. The potentially silly looking alien became instantly loveable, with his wide eyes and his penchant for Reese’s Pieces. It felt so real that I believed I too could actually take part in this world.
Best friends! Turn on your heart light.
With such fond memories, it’s hard to believe this much-lauded classic is not a toast (and I’m sure I’ll take some heat for it). But that’s exactly the problem. In re-watching the film, I waited for that hit – the moment when I was completely transported into Elliott’s world. Unfortunately it never really came. Perhaps it was due to John Williams’ ever-present score. Never is the audience left alone to develop a feeling because the music is always telling you what to do. Maybe it was because the viewpoint is so heavily slanted towards kids – what was a treat as a child felt like a bit of a slog as an adult.
Ironically some of the magic was actually removed due to the modernization of the 20th anniversary edition (which is the only option currently available to rent on Netflix). The extra CGI scenes feel fakey and are distracting compared to the initial quality. The 30th anniversary edition will be released this year and will include a fully restored version of the original film, so maybe I’ll have to give it another shot.
Though Spielberg’s well-known penchant for catering to children can be annoying, it was still an incredible experience to be a part of the target audience. E.T. invited everyone along and I’ll always be grateful that I got to take the ride.
I’m pretty sure Gertie would appreciate a big sister, but this drunk-looking bag lady will have to do.
A unique twist on the classic tale of love and friendship that transforms everyone involved. A must see for kids.
Take a Drink: every time you feel it’s kind of wrong to have an E.T. drinking game.
Take a Drink: every time E.T. indulges in some Reese’s Pieces – and then have a good laugh at the expense of the Hershey Company, who turned down the opportunity to feature M&Ms in this coveted spot because they thought the alien would scare kids.
Take a Drink: whenever Drew Barrymore is onscreen. She’s so flipping cute in this role, it’s unreal.
Do a Shot: when Elliott and company fly past the moon on their dirt bikes.
Do a Shot: if you’re a newbie and can discern the extended scenes that were slipped into the original film.
Here’s a little salve for anyone smarting from the Snooki sneak attack.