E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
Spielberg's family classic is still one of the best.
Based on 79 reviews
Based on 193 reviews
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E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Steven Spielberg's classic, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, is one of the greatest family films ever made. Its themes of loyalty, trust, and caring are affecting and easy to understand, and Elliott and E.T.'s extraordinary friendship is one of cinema's most enduring. Some scenes of peril and danger may be too intense for very young kids, and the moments leading to a key character's apparent death will be emotional for just about everyone. Brief strong language includes "s--t" and "son of a bitch," as well as an insult that includes "penis," and use of the slur "redskin" during a reading of Peter Pan. There's a bit of squabbling among siblings, and E.T. and Elliott both get and act tipsy in one comically memorable scene. A 2002 edition replaced a scene that used guns with walkie-talkies, though that sparked a fair bit of backlash, and the guns returned for the film's 30th anniversary in 2012. The film lacks diversity, but its portrayal of a single mother remains commendable.
One of the All Time Bests
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very touching and innocent at times. but still very unacceptable.
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What's the Story?
In E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, a young boy named Elliott (Henry Thomas) discovers an extraterrestrial being who was left behind when his spaceship departed without him. After Elliott brings E.T. home, it becomes clear that the benevolent otherworldly creature can't survive in Earth's environment and must return to his home planet. While hiding E.T., Elliott develops a close friendship with the alien 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 they must face government scientists who want to capture and study E.T. instead of allowing him to return home.
Is It Any Good?
This iconic film is a beautiful exploration of the unique friendship between Elliott and the little extraterrestrial. Although kids may no longer quote E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial or dress as E.T. for Halloween, the kind character remains one of the most recognizable creatures in movie history, and that's due to director Steven Spielberg's genius. Not only is the movie a fantastic sci-fi adventure with unforgettable images (the flying bicycle scene alone is worth watching), but it's also a touching family drama (a divorced mother trying to raise three kids without her ex's help; children who are wary of trusting adults).
The performances, especially from 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 perfectly captures the frustration and chaos of single parenting, which in the early 1980s was an unconventional family structure to see in movies. John Williams' score soars, and the special effects are still dazzling, even if younger audiences are used to much slicker digital imagery.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the way that the adults and the kids in E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial see things differently and have a hard time understanding one another's perspective. Why do Elliott and his siblings understand E.T. in a way the adults can't?
How does the movie portray parent-child relationships? Could Elliott have talked to his mother about E.T.? Is it OK to keep secrets from your parents when you're a child?
Compare E.T. to other movies featuring aliens. Why do you think aliens are usually portrayed as scary and dangerous rather than friendly?
How do the characters in E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial demonstrate communication, perseverance, and teamwork? What about compassion and empathy? Why are those important character strengths?
- In theaters: June 11, 1982
- On DVD or streaming: 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
- Character Strengths: Communication, Compassion, Empathy, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: language and mild thematic elements
- Last updated: October 18, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Suspenseful, thoughtful alien-encounter classic.
Nonstop over-the-top fun for teens and up.
The Last Starfighter
Lighthearted space adventure has a fun '80s feel.
Monsters vs. Aliens
Homage to '50s alien flicks too intense for youngest kids.
For kids who love aliens and emotional tales
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