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

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial


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.

4 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?

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