I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL: THE SPECIAL EDITION: FOR THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY: THE MOVIE

This is one of those things where they take an old movie that was very popular, and then they change it, because they think the only way anybody would want to see a movie they loved on the big screen again would be if somebody just completely fucked with it and tried to ruin it. They did the same thing with the Star Trek pictures, and the exorcist (see below) and Night of the Living Dead on video (I’m still staying away from that one).

This goes into the Star Trek category where the individual who made it (Steve Spielberg) gets old, forgets everything that made him vital when he was young, and decides to change things, but claims it’s actually perfectionism. The most infamous thing here is that he wanted no guns in the movie at all. Which is kind of weird for a movie where the main characters get chased by a mob of cops. So there they are, a bunch of fuckin cops and government spooks, running around all holding a walkie talkie with their trigger fingers poised to, I don’t know, hit the little beeper button that you use for Morse code.

What they didn’t pussy out on was the language, because there is a bit of cussing from out of babe’s mouths and shit. The famous one is the little boy, Elliot, yells “SHUT UP, PENIS BREATH!” to his brother. Congratulations to Steve Spielberg for leaving that in, although I would have liked him to update it to the more common “COCKSUCKER!”

mp_etI don’t know what it is about the mentality of these hollywood people that they think something that is already universally loved by parents and children needs to be toned down for their sensibilities. According to my Nerd Issues Correspondent, the same thing was done with the Henry Porter movie. They followed the book very faithfully on a scene by scene basis, but not in its spirit. They removed almost all references to rule breaking and illegalities (like in the book, I guess owning a dragon was a crime, in the movie owning a dragon was really cute). They also took out a joke about a kid being nailed real hard in the face, then cheering for Henry while blood sprays out of his nose.

I mean what are they thinking – ten billion kids read these books obsessively, all parents who are not some kind of christian nut love the books and are so happy to have something to capture the imagination of their little crumb crushers, etc. etc. BUT, we gotta tone it down for the children. Same thing with E.T. The kids all loved it, the parents cried – they’ll never see it again unless we clean it up! I’m surprised they didn’t put pants on the little fucker.

To be honest though all that shit wasn’t that distracting. I never memorized the movie anyway, I probaly wouldn’ta noticed if I hadn’t read about it. But touching up the effects using computers was just a bad idea. The effects in the movie ALREADY LOOKED REAL. When you see the new shit, you see what is obviously computer animation. What’s the difference? It doesn’t look more real, it doesn’t look like it should be there. It’s just a waste of money and time for the haitan refugees they have animating in the ilm sweatshops.

Those were great effects before. The only parts that look phoney are the parts they left in, where E.T. is a midget (or emperor penguin?) in a rubber suit instead of a puppet, and he looks really bloated. All the stuff they changed was the stuff that already looked perfect. Why would you want to take out such great effects just to make something look more modern, and not as good? Would you do that to King Kong, you hollywood fuckwipes?

I got an idea for you little shits. Why don’t you make a special edition of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. Use digital technology to fix those little imperfections that they didn’t have the money or technology to avoid. Make it stop switching from day to night randomly, to capture Ed Wood’s true vision from the time. Make the space ships and aliens really spectacular. Clean up the shots of the cemetery, so the tombstones don’t wobble. Create a Final Fantasy style computer double of Bela Lugosi and dig up Mr. Wood’s handwritten notes to piece together the performance he might have given had he not passed away.

Finally, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE can be seen the way it was meant to be seen: the way it never was!

Otherwise the E.T. movie is pretty okay. It’s about this little kid that finds a weird alien dude in his yard. He keeps it as his dog and then it drinks beer. Later they have some kind of weird psychical connection, as if they were twins. So the boy kisses Erika Eleniak, and lets the frogs go. Then the government sends a bunch of astronauts to his house, the alien dies and comes back to the life, and ascends to the sky. This story is very similar to the New Testament as well as the end of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker.

At the end the boy’s dog Harvey almost runs onto the spaceship. I thought that woulda been a pretty good ending.

Also I mean what would happen? Have you ever tried to take a dog on a car ride before? I mean Harvey probaly woulda gone ape shit and started shitting all over the place. And that was not a big spaceship. Can you imagine how far they probaly had to fly? And there’d be this dog shit in there the whole time. Or who knows even if he didn’t shit all over the place, that dog could just start trying to eat the E.T.s or something. I mean they do it to babies sometimes, who knows. I don’t think E.T.s carry laser guns. Jesus this shit is just freakin me out man, some dog takin a big bite out of an E.T., and what the fuck are they gonna do about it? Except keep healing each other, and the dog keeps eating them again and again, all the way back to their planet.

Man now that I think about it those E.T.s really lucked out that the dog didn’t get on the ship.

Anyway what works in this picture is the kids, they are real little but they’re good. Elliot and Gertie act more like real kids than like movie kids. Like when Elliot shows off his toys to E.T., or Gertie says “I don’t like his feet.” Drew Barrymore is really good and she seems almost the same now. Man Drew Barrymore must be pretty young. I’m gonna feel guilty if I think she’s hot next time I watch Charlie’s Angels.

That said there is alot of magical shit that doesn’t make any damn sense. I mean how come E.T. has to run away from guys that are trying to catch him but when he’s trying to impress Elliot he can make bikes fly? It’s ridiculous. I believe in the magic of a young boy’s dream as much as the next guy but jesus, Spielberg, give us a fuckin break.

Also, with the new computer animated chase at the beginning, E.T. hops like a limber bunny, but at the end when he’s gettin back on the ship he still waddles like an elderly penguin. Maybe it’s all that beer and candy he’s been living off of.

But enough of that review bullshit. The real reason I wanted to Write about this movie was to tell you about this dude that was sitting in front of me at the theater. He kept talking to himself, but then would turn around and shush the kids that were whispering in the back. He would clap during any famous scene in the movie. When the music swelled, he started to wave his arms around pretending that he was conducting. Then he calmed down a little for the sad part and I heard him blowing a wad of snot out. I mean he really had an attachment to E.T., but he hated kids. He perked up for the ending, applauded, loudly hummed along and pretended to conduct the orchestra for the entire end credits, with the exception of a small break to put on his jacket. This is the type of dude you usually see on the bus, but apparently they also like E.T.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2002 at 11:06 am and is filed under Drama, Family, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

17 Responses to “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”

  1. I just watched this last night. I don’t want to get too controversial here, but I think this is a pretty good movie. You guys should watch it.

    This is fucking filmmaking, man. I seriously think this might be the best-directed movie ever. it just plays you like a fucking fiddle. It’s got so many little shots that just have so much meaning burned into them. You look at it and you get it. You get it so easily and obviously that you don’t even realize that it was the result of somebody making a million little decisions that weren’t easy and obvious, just so this shot could fucking nail you. Because the filmmaking is so on point there’s no need for big speeches telling you what to think, except for the Keymaster’s one about how he’s glad E.T. met Elliot first and he did as good a job as anyone could have. And that’s a great speech for a little boy who’s father doesn’t give a shit about him to hear. That was the part that really got me this time, seeing how even a fucking government stooge could see that this little boy is a better representative of the human race than himself and all these scientists and soldiers and agents he hangs around with. I mean, christ, I’m not made of stone.

    Anyway, other than that, it gets it all across with images and music and gestures and little bits of behavior. Like how the mom laughs when Elliot says “penis-breath” even though she knows she shouldn’t. Says so much about her as a person and the family dynamic. And how the older brother is trying to grow up too fast (He’s eager to back his mom’s car out of the driveway, using her keys, now that you mention it, which are seen as the symbol of adult authority in the movie) but when shit gets too real he goes and hides with all the stuffed animals so he can be a kid again.

    (Speaking of the older brother, please do not watch his interviews on the 2002 DVD. He’s like 36 and he has blond dreadlocks like he’s Vanilla Ice in his net-metal phase. Also do not watch the behind-the-scenes because it will show how in some scenes E.T. was a kid with no legs in a rubber suit. Kinda makes it less funny when the mom smacks him in the face with the fridge door.)

    I also love how the other kids rally around Elliott with no explanation. He’s got the feds on his ass but he’s just like “Get the bikes” and they get the fucking bikes, no question. It’s like the kid version of the “I’ll get my gear” scene in ROLLING THUNDER. Fucking brothers in arms.

    Shit, man, I’m as cold and dead inside as the next guy, but this fucking movie… This fucking movie is fucking magical.

  2. Fact: This movie still has the ability to make me tear up when it looks like E.T. (Spoiler) dies, even though (extra spoiler!!) I KNOW HE LIVES. Seriously, when I was working at my beloved defunct Video Den, my colleague and I had to turn it off because we were about to start getting seriously emotional. At work. While half-watching a kid’s movie we’d both seen dozens of times. Fuckin’ Spielberg, man.

  3. Right? You KNOW he’s gonna be fine, you think you’re too tough for this shit this time, but then they show little Drew jumping when the defibrillator goes off and suddenly somebody needs to crack a window because it’s mad dusty in here, son.

    Watching it this time made me remember my reaction the first time I saw it. I’ve heard a lot about how E.T. is basically a story about divorce, and I’ve read comments from children of divorce saying that they really felt a sadness in that family that they could relate to. When E.T. came out, however, I was a little five-year-old badass with a dickhead stepfather, so to me, Elliot’s family looked like heaven. You mean the family can just hang out and eat pizza and call each other names without some surly drunk ruining everything? And you get a fucking alien wizard as a pet? Where do I sign up for this shit?

  4. spent my entire viewing of ST2ANGER THINGS wishing it had pulled a Rob Zombie HALLOWEEN 2 with everyone totally fucked up and suffering from debilitating PTSD due to the events of season one. unfortunately it was just more of the same with the massively diminished returns one would expect in such an event. i actually thought long, long stretches of season two were legitimately outright bad, but i wasn’t a huge fan of the first go around so maybe this shit just isn’t for me.

  5. I thought season two was a huge improvement on the first season. For me I got what they tried to do the first time around and got a deeper attachment to the characters. Especially Steve.

  6. I tried to finish season 1 last week, but I turned that shit off after 15 minutes. I was stuck on episode 6 for months, then skipped right to the last, because it didn’t seem to me like I would miss anything important (turned out I was right), but man, that show simply isn’t for me. Too bad, because the first two or three episodes were actually interesting and actually made me tell others that I like the show! I guess I’m not the target audience.

  7. I have a similar problem with the first season. But the second season was interesting throughout this time and made me actually bingewatch it from start to finish.

  8. I watched the first season under the mistaken impression that it was an anthology show like AMERICAN HORROR STORY. So when the season was over, I was impressed by how haunting and bittersweet the ending to the story was. I thought it was brave to court audience disappointment that way. Then not five minutes later I went online and realized that I was wrong, that every evocative loose end was just your basic season-finale cliffhanger, and I immediately lost interest. I liked this story because I thought it had a definitive beginning, middle, and end. I’m not interested in seeing it stretched and distorted into the usual soap opera nonsense over the course of half a decade.

  9. Man, I am really struggling getting through each season of AMERICAN HORROR STORY. It´s like pulling teeth. I started watching it a couple of years ago. I am halfway through the second season. It is a little bit better than the first season, which was one helluva an unsatisfactory watch. but I think it´s time to call it quits and focus on stuff I like to watch instaed of forcing my way through-

  10. I stopped after the third season, I think. None of the seasons tell a cohesive story. They just throw in a bunch of subplots that look like they’re going to come together but then they just cut them off unceremoniously when they run out of episodes. It’s fun at first because it’s so random and full of incident but after the first couple of times it just becomes repetitive and unsatisfying.

  11. I’m having the same problem with STRANGER THINGS season one right now. I kind of… find it pointless. The acting is good and there’s obvious production value, but it’s such precious nerd fulfillment. Maybe the problem is that I was a kid with all the same pop movie influences as the show’s creators, so it feels very personal to me, but it’s purely a nostalgia exercise. The “Oh yeah” echochamber isn’t enough. You gotta build a fresh monster with those pieces.

    I’m going to stick with it a bit. Logically, I should like this, and feel weirdly guilty that it isn’t clicking for me–it seems a bit better than SUPER 8, at least. I do think John Carpenter’s aesthetic has been fetishized to death lately, and a lot of stuff like this that wants to ape Spielberg seems to overlook his spiritual understanding of junk food culture.

    AMERICAN HORROR STORY is also not for me. But I do recommend PENNY DREADFUL to anyone into that type of series. Eva Green is amazing in it.

  12. Mark- I liked season two of STRANGER THINGS a helluva lot more. I grew more fund of a certain character that grew out of that particular 80´s movie archetype and when I did the show opened up to me. Stick with it. You might like it.

  13. If you’re able to avoid the hype, Stranger Things is an enjoyable time waster, but it’s also something we’ve seen before and we’ve seen done better. That’s not necessarily a problem. I’m okay with television as comfort food because it so very rarely rises above “just okay.” I’ve only seen the first episode of the second seasons so far, though, so I can only really comment on season one.

    I’m actually having trouble finding new TV shows that I genuinely love. But I’ve yet to check out David Simon’s The Deuce, so here’s hoping that the hype is real for that one.

  14. I think I ranted about my disappointment in Stranger Things somewhere in the forums here, but I’ll reiterate that it’s wholly average and the whole “#JusticeforBarb” thing pretty much sums up my bewilderment at the rabid fandom of this show. She’s in it for like 5 minutes total and has zero interesting or noticeable traits, and I think the fact that she became a giant meme/hashtag says more about our societies’ need for memes and hashtags more than the quality of this adequate show. (I’m also bewildered by the fact that the same people who are wowed that “The music sounds like John Carpenter!” as if that’s unheard of, seem like the same people who wouldn’t shut the fuck up about It Follows or the twenty other indie horror movies whose music sounds like John Carpenter.)

    To be honest if you need your 80s nostalgia itch scratched, The Goldbergs is actually a pretty funny and clever show. Sure it’s got plots based around obvious 80s classics like Ferris Bueller or Top Gun, but there’s some deeper cuts like plots inspired by Commando and Howard the Duck, and an entire episode where the main character is traumatized by Transformers: The Movie when Optimus Prime dies. I think it definitely “gets” the feelings of being a young boy in the 80s alot more than anything in Stranger Things.

  15. Both Sean Astin and Paul Reiser are parts of what make season two special to me. As well as Steve. Sean Astin as playing the relatable lovable doofus I missed from the first season. He is so great in this. It is also nice to see Paul Reiser raise to become a nuanced character within an agency less than The Shop and more of a reallife government task force responsible of cleaning up the shit of this shady “the Shop”-esque agency. I feel a lot of archetypes being roken on this season and it is soooo great.

  16. Shoot McKay – Thanks! I’m already aware that this is such a cultural touchstone that if I don’t watch it now, I’ll be bad at pub trivia questions in 10-years. That’s been happening to me lately with Harry Potter, and is about to with Game of Thrones as well. I’ll stick with it.

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