Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1982. Universal Pictures. Screenplay by Melissa Mathison. Cinematography by Allen Daviau. Produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg. Music by John Williams. Production Design by James D. Bissell. Costume Design by Deborah Lynn Scott. Film Editing by Carol Littleton. Academy Awards 1982. Boston Film Critics Awards 1982. Golden Globe Awards 1982. National Board of Review Awards 1982. New York Film Critics Awards 1982.
Henry Thomas is wonderful as a little boy who encounters an alien creature that was accidentally abandoned by his spaceship in a nearby forest. Taking the alien intruder in, the boy develops a deep affinity with his new friend and even starts to share his emotional responses to the world around him, trying to help him get back to his home planet before the worlds of science or media get wind of the now-named E.T. and subject him to life-threatening testing and experimentation. Dee Wallace excels as the boy’s mother, and Drew Barrymore ignites her child star career as Thomas’s delectably cute little sister. The special effects are impressive but never overpower the thematic elements of the film, emphasizing friendship, discovery and genuine love above all else. The film became the biggest moneymaker of all time, keeping the number one spot for eleven years until Jurassic Park (also Spielberg) came out in 1993; it’s also famous for having spawned an era of movie product placement (Reese’s Pieces sales went through the roof) and for teaching an entire generation the phrase ‘E.T. Phone Home!’