Drew Barrymore

E.T.:The Extra Terrestrial

Year: 1982
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Melissa Mathison

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is one of the highest grossing films of all time. It had an interesting box office journey in which it started out slow and grew stronger. It stayed a steady grosser for nearly an entire year at the box office and I think it actually holds the record for consecutive weeks in the theater. I would have to check my facts to be certain of that though. I have pondered about the success of this movie before, what was it that set it apart from the others and made it so special? I believe that it is because it feels so real, centering on a family in a domestic situation many of us can relate to. It reminds us of what it was like to be a kid again and gives us hope for the possibilities out there in the universe. This is a magical movie, it’s fun and funny, and above all else it is legendary.

When I was in high school I remember watching this movie in Spanish 2. I hadn’t seen the movie since I was a little kid, and remembered little from the plot. The version we were watching was in Spanish though so I understood little of the dialogue outside of “E.T. telephono mi casa.” My class period only allowed us to watch about three quarters of the movie. I saw up until the part when E.T. died and I was floored. I didn’t remember that happening, that couldn’t be right. I spent the entire day thinking about it, had this Spanish version somehow been different? The movie had me at that point and I hadn’t even been able to understand what the characters in the film were talking about, that is how good the movie is. When I got out of school that day I went to work at the video store and picked that movie out to play on the TVs. We had two televisions in the store that we would play customer-friendly films on during operation hours. It was that night after hearing it in my own language I fell in love with the film. It is a special movie, it touched our hearts and made us believe in and hope for life on other planets. It also made bike riding look so cool. I’m sure countless people found themselves in better shape after seeing it.

Steven Spielberg has had one of the most distinguishing careers of any filmmaker in history and this film is what he chose as the image of his production company, Amblin Entertainment. It is the image of Eliot flying across the moon on his bike, you will see it before many films that Spielberg was involved with. Spielberg added in many things from his own childhood and family life into this film. In fact I think many of Spielberg’s earlier work documents how his family life was when he grew up. I am speaking specifically about Close Encounter of the Third Kind but I’m sure more research would turn up more examples. He dictated the story of this film to the writer during the shooting of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It is so incredible the body of work he was putting together at that time, and the great movies he would continue to make for the next thirty years and then some. Spielberg shot this movie for the most part from the eye level of a kid, and outside of Eliot’s mom you don’t actually see an adults face until over half way through the film. That is part of the reason that this movie reminds us of what it was like to be a kid again. Spielberg has always had a great ability to work with children and get a lot out of them. This movie is a great example of that skill given the performances of a very young Drew Barrymore and Henry Thomas.

I referred to this film as legendary because it more or less created product placement in films. When Spielberg started making the movie he originally wanted to use M&M’s as the candy Eliot used to lure E.T., but the opportunity was declined by the makers of M&M’s. Spielberg chose Reese’s Pieces as an alternative and shortly after sales for the candy skyrocketed. Product placement in films suddenly became a very profitable opportunity for businesses and today it is an important process in the making of any film. So aside from being one of the highest grossing films of all time this film also started something that would affect all movies to come after it.

Since E.T. does die and come back to life in the film there have always been people that want to connect that to Christian symbolism. In case nobody figured it out when he made Schindler’s List, Spielberg is Jewish. He did not make this movie intending there to be any parallels with the religion and has even said that if he did so his mother would have scolded him. However there will always be people out there looking for these kinds of connections when they sometimes don’t exist and even when the connections are completely impractical. This is just a movie about a kid and a friendly alien. It was extremely popular though and undoubtedly was used frequently in efforts to relate religion to youths, albeit inappropriately.

I am always surprised when I watch this movie again how much I enjoy it. I have only ever watched the original version though. I refuse to watch the new editions where guns were taken out and CGI technology was used to give E.T. a waving and flopping tongue. Both Spielberg and his good friend George Lucas love to go back and adjust their older films. Lucas is much worse about it though. This is a stupid thing to do though and I am not a fan of it. The movies that they change were already classics, they also represent the technology of the time and I think altering them is a grave mistake. Movies should represent the time that they were made, eliminating smoking from a movie like E.T. (if that was done at all) denies the fact that people did that so heavily and I think it is important to remember how things used to be. Nevertheless, this is a fantastic movie that is appropriate for all ages and audiences. I think this movie is more than worth your time and I would recommend it to anyone.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Well…Ryan wrote a book! He keeps hounding me to write this post. Now that I sit down to do it, the baby is screaming and our three year old won’t stop talking.  So I’m going to keep it short. This was one of my favorite movies when I was little. It sticks in my mind because it was so magical when I was a little girl. I think that as little kids we all believed in E.T. and thought that he was real.  Ryan wrote pretty much everything there was to say about why it was so easy for us to connect with it as kids.

I love this movie, and it gives me a nostalgic feeling. It reminds me of when I was a little kid and went to Universal Studios with my family.  The E.T. ride was my second favorite ride of all time (the first being the Back to the Future ride, how badass was that one?) and it made it one of my favorite vacations when I was younger.  This is a really great movie and you should see it.

NEXT MOVIE: Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Ever After: A Cinderella Story

Year: 1998
Directed By: Andy Tennant
Written By: Susannah Grant

RYAN’S REVIEW

If I put too much effort into this review I would have to get up and take a long wondering look at myself in the mirror because I wouldn’t know the guy looking back at me.  This is a movie made for fourteen year old girls and  it was a real challenge for me just to sit through half of it.  I remember this movie being in the family collection among all the adrenaline fueled action movies when I was younger.  It was for my sisters, and now it is in our collection for my wife.  Undoubtedly my daughters will one day identify with this silly movie as well so I suppose it should stay on the movie rack.  If you are a teenage girl then by all means see this because I suppose it is worth your time.  Otherwise keep channel surfing because you will find something more interesting in a heartbeat.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Oh emm gee…he like didn’t even write about the actors in this movie.

This movie is definitely for a fourteen year old girl, but I still love it. I loved it then and I love it like I will always love Clueless. This movie stars Drew Barrymore as the poor little girl whose father dies early in the movie, leaving her with a stepmother she barely knows and her two step-sisters. (A classic Cinderella story.) Her evil stepmother is played by the great Anjelica Huston who is a favorite of Wes Anderson, a personal movie hero to both Ryan and myself. They play very well opposite each other, and I do believe Angelica Huston is very, very good at playing a bad guy. This movie plays out just like Cinderella. It is very sappy and it is very much for the fourteen year old girl inside yourself.

NEXT MOVIE: E.T.: Extra-Terrestrial 

Donnie Darko

Year: 2001
Directed By: Richard Kelly
Written By: Richard Kelly

RYAN’S REVIEW

What an interesting film this is. It’s a bit strange and to be perfectly honest I have never really been clear on what is going on in the end but I have always liked it nonetheless.  All of the Richard Kelly  movies I have seen have been like this.  They are bizarre but intriguing in an appealing way.  So much of the movies being put out there sometimes are more of the same. So it’s refreshing to see a truly original and different idea. I think I identified with the messages and meanings of this film more in my youth but I still enjoy it today.

Time travel and worm holes are not ideas usually blended in with the typical high school film but that’s part of what makes this one exceptional.  Throw in a creepy ass bunny, a badass argument over the sexuality of smurfs, and teen drug use into the pot and you have taken a weird high school film to the next level. I think the movie had a great cast and an awesome soundtrack.  Those things can make or break any movie and they make this movie better.  This is a marquee role for Jake Gyllenhaal but he is continuing to develop a long and distinguished career.  He is fantastic in this part and he carries the film on his shoulders.  I think his actual sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal, was a great choice to play his sister in the film. They have great natural chemistry with one another that Kelly was able to use to his advantage. I like Patrick Swayze’s part in the film, and better yet how Donnie Darko gets the best of him.  I think Beth Grant was exceptional in the movie, we all know a person like the character she plays and she plays it well. This was the first feature film for Seth Rogen, who plays the lackey of the main bully in the school. Drew Barrymore owns the production company that put this movie in the theaters and it was her direct involvement that got the movie made but I think she overacts throughout the film. What kind of douche bag teacher tells a new girl to pick a seat next to the boy that she likes? There are much better ways to play the part of the “cool teacher.” Noah Wyle plays a big part but who the hell is Noah Wyle right? I think big things were expected from him fifteen years ago but nothing ever came of it.

Richard Kelly is unique, to say the least.  His movies have plot threads that you won’t find in anything else and they are very imaginative. If I remember correctly his father worked for NASA, and I think that explains the complexity of his stories somehow.  He likes to use wormholes and time travel and other types of theoretical science that typical people don’t know anything about. He blends them with really personal and relatable stories though, and Donnie Darko is a perfect example of that. Typical suburban household with a kid on pills but in this house there is also clairvoyance, time travel, wormholes, and the end of the world. His other two films were Southland Tales (2006) and The Box (2009).  I liked both of those very much, though Southland Tales has been at the center of a debate in this household that has been ongoing for about five years now.  Every once and a while I try to trick Amber into watching it again because I can’t believe she actually doesn’t like it but this is always a waste of time.  She hates it every time, and I am surprised every time because I think it is awesome.

This movie was nearly straight to video because studios weren’t sure how to market it for release.  I think when you watch it you can understand why.  It’s not your typical film and it can be confusing even to the people that really liked it. I always recommend this movie but do so real timidly because it isn’t for everybody.  It has become a cult classic over the years and will undoubtedly continue to grow in popularity for the foreseeable future.  While it is weird I do think this this movie is awesome and definitely worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is really interesting. It is dark, and very, very strange. I remember watching this movie in college and thinking it was so great because it was so original. I’m not quite sure I feel the same way about it now. It’s definitely one of a kind and if you like that really weird, dark and somewhat crazy kind of movie then you should see it. I look at it like watching what it feels like to see from the point of view of a guy taking a lot of medication.

NEXT MOVIE: The Doors (1991)