E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

  • Review Date: June 28, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1982

Common Sense Media says

Spielberg's family classic is still one of the best.
  • Review Date: June 28, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1982

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids can learn about friendship and trust.

Positive messages

Strong messages of friendship, loyalty, trust, and sacrifice as exemplified by Elliott and E.T.'s unique relationship.

Positive role models

While Elliott may be keeping E.T.'s existence a secret, he does it to keep his new friend safe and does anything he can to help him. He and his little sister and eventually their brother believe that E.T. is good before anyone else. Elliott is loyal and brave, and E.T. is loving and selfless.

Violence & scariness

Most of the violence is from the government agents pursuing E.T. and eventually capturing him. There are several scenes of E.T. and the characters screaming in horror, usually because they have just encountered each other. In one particularly upsetting sequence, E.T. gets ghostly pale and looks like he's about to die or actually has died. In another scene, men try to stop E.T. and the kids from escaping.

Sexy stuff

Elliott, while under the influence of his connection with E.T. (who is watching a couple kiss in a movie), kisses a young girl in his class.

Language

Brief but strong for young audiences: "s--t," "damn," "Oh my God!," "son of a bitch," plus insults like "penis breath," "stupid," etc.

Consumerism

One of the most successful and memorable product placements in movie history: Reese's Pieces. Also, Elliott has Star Wars figures and memorabilia (which is not surprising considering director George Lucas is Spielberg's close pal). Coke, Head and Shoulders shampoo, Coors beer and Pez dispensers are also featured.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

E.T. drinks beer and gets tipsy, which affects Elliott through their special connection. Elliott starts to act drunk while at school.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Steven Spielberg's classic has some scenes of mild peril that may be too intense for younger children. For example, E.T. looks like he has died in one scene. There is brief but strong language by today's standards for a PG movie (like"bitch" and "s--t"). E.T. contains one of the most memorable product placements ever, Reese's Pieces, as well as a scene in which Elliott feels slightly drunk, because E.T. has indulged in a beer. Families should also be aware of the fact that the movie was criticized for having a complete absence of non-white characters.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

A young boy named Elliott (Henry Thomas) discovers an extraterrestrial that had been left behind by his fellow aliens hiding near his house. After he brings E.T. home, it becomes clear that the benevolent otherworldly creature Elliott dubs E.T. can't survive in Earth's atmosphere and must return to his home planet. While hiding E.T., Elliott develops a close friendship and a connection that binds them to each other. With the help of Elliott, his siblings, and their pals, E.T. sends a rescue message to his planet, but Elliott all of a sudden finds himself facing government scientists who want to capture and study E.T. instead of allowing him to return home. The 2012 Anniversary Edition includes interviews with director Steven Spielberg as well as some on-set production footage.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

It's difficult to review a movie that was a cultural touchstone of one's childhood, because there are personal memories enmeshed with the movie itself. Although kids no longer dress as E.T. for Halloween or recite his famous line, "E.T. phone home," the kind extraterrestrial remains one of the most recognizable creatures in movie history, and that is due to director Steven Spielberg's genius. Not only is the movie a sci-fi adventure with unforgettable images (the flying bicycle scene alone is worth the cost of a rental), but it's also a family drama (divorced mother trying to raise three kids without her ex's help; children who are wary of trusting adults) and beautiful exploration of a unique friendship (the special connection E.T. and Elliott share is precious).

The performances, especially the kids -- Thomas, 6-year-old Drew Barrymore as Elliott's baby sister Gertie, and Robert Macnaughton as his older brother Michael -- are exceptional and genuine. Dee Wallace, who a year later also played a besieged mother in Cujo, perfectly captured the frustration and at-times insanity of single parenting, which in the early '80s was an unconventional family structure in movies. John Williams' score soars, and the special effects are still dazzling, even if younger audiences are used to much slicker by now. After more than 25 years, E.T. continues to tug at heartstrings and prove Spielberg is a master storyteller.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the way that the adults and the kids in the movie see things differently and have a hard time understanding each other's perspective. Why do Elliott and his siblings understand E.T. in a way the adults in the movie can't?

  • How does the movie portray parent-child relationships? Could Elliott have talked to his mother about E.T.?

  • Compare E.T. to other movies featuring aliens. Why are aliens usually scary and dangerous rather than peaceful?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 11, 1982
DVD release date:October 9, 2012
Cast:Dee Wallace, Drew Barrymore, Henry Thomas
Director:Steven Spielberg
Studio:Universal Pictures
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Adventures, Friendship, Space and aliens
Run time:115 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:language and mild thematic elements

This review of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 13 years old Written bybkid August 15, 2010
AGE
6
QUALITY
 
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great role models
Kid, 10 years old Written byzak1 June 4, 2011
AGE
6
QUALITY
 

GOOD

i showed this to a 6 year old and they were fine but i still think that the language is an issue

What other families should know
Too much swearing
Adult Written byJenPete November 7, 2010
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

TERRIBLE foul language makes this otherwise fantastic family film inappropriate

We had great memories of this film and hoped to share it with our 8 and 10 year olds. WOW! I'm sure glad we previewed it. The use of foul language is absolutely inappropriate for what would otherwise be a fantastic family film. There are, of course, tense moments, and some discussion should be had with young children about e.t., his origins and his appearance. Spielberg did a great job building tension visually and with the help of John WIlliams' score. We'll save this for when the kids are older.

What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Top Kids' Movies: An Essential Guide for Families