A right-wing Republican with limited intellectual abilities is President. Congress has just passed massive tax cuts while increasing the defense budget so that the United States can fight off an implacable enemy. Ariel Sharon is leading Israeli troops as they try to drive Yasser Arafat into the sea. And E.T. is playing in theatres everywhere. Sound familiar? It's hard to tell 1982 from 2002 except maybe for the flair jeans that Peter Coyote wears in E.T. Of course, as soon as you see Drew Barrymore, long before she flashed Dave Letterman, you'll know it's been twenty years since E.T. first came out. Also, E.T. was the first great product placement movie. Who'd ever heard of Reeses Pieces before E.T.?
I don't think I need to summarize the plot. It hasn't changed. And Spielberg didn't monkey with the film. One short scene has been added and the special effects have been cleaned up a bit. Of course, back in 1982, effects were special. Flying bicycles aren't what they used to be in the Harry Potter era. But it doesn't matter. It's still fun to see those bikes lift off and leave the bad guys behind. Of course, E.T. was made in a kinder and gentler time so the bad guys are actually good guys. The cast includes Henry Thomas as E.T.'s soulmate Elliot, the very young Drew Barrymore and Robert MacNaughton as his siblings, and Dee Wallace as their mother. Peter Coyote plays the scary then cuddly Mr. Keys.
This film was the high point
for most of these actors' careers. But, Peter Coyote
has had a eccentric but successful career since. For child actors, it is always hard to make it as adults. Henry Thomas and C. Thomas Howell (one the friends on the bikes) are still working but Drew Barrymore is more the exception than the rule in making it big as an adult. You can definitely see her star quality in E.T. She may have been only 5 years old but in E.T., she is remarkably like she is today. Maybe it's the DNA. She is descended from John, Lionel and Ethel, after all. E.T. holds up very well and is a joy to see. The cast all is very good and the script is crisp and funny. It's still a great line when, after one of the friends says about E.T., ``Why doesn't he just beam up," Elliot answers, ``This is reality." And E.T. himself, even though he is a very low-tech alien by today's standards, is still the sweetest, funniest alien around. So what if E.T. is a bit on the sugary side. I still cried when E.T. ``dies." And having it in the theatre again is a chance for another generation to see it up on the big screen. It's definitely worth the trip. Take the kids and take yourself too.