Steven Spielberg’s 1982 film achieves the level of decent, middling Disney—Old Yeller, for example, rather than Snow White or Pinocchio—which is to say that the childhood myths being promulgated here are rather basic and unadorned, without the baroque touches and psychological penetration Disney could muster at his best. The extraterrestrial is a big-eyed, phallic-headed ancient baby, discovered by a suburban boy as implicit emotional compensation for his parents’ divorce. Though marred by Spielberg’s usual carelessness with narrative points, the film alternates sweetness and sarcasm with enough rhetorical sophistication to be fairly irresistible. With Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, and Peter Coyote.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
PG • 2 hours • 1982