Parents' Guide to

John Was Trying to Contact Aliens

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Short docu explores the need to connect; mature themes.

Movie NR 2020 16 minutes
John Was Trying to Contact Aliens Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 18+

Based on 1 parent review

age 18+

Contacting aliens on why they used a UFO to my house to take my daughter

Because my name is John and where’s my daughter, Emily - John Smith (bigchungues)

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (3 ):

Sometimes, feature-length documentaries come out in which the story is more or less an anecdote that could've been told in 20 minutes or less. With John Was Trying to Contact Aliens, the opposite is the case. Clocking in at 16 minutes, it's a short, too-short documentary that feels like a story has been summarized and glossed over. What appears to be a story of an oddball eccentric's obsession with using 1970s overlarge supercomputers to broadcast Kraftwerk to any extraterrestrial beings interested in hearing "Autobahn" on their flying saucer FM radios becomes a poignant and much-needed message on love and humanity's innate need for connection.

While the story and message do emerge in the 16 minutes, the jump from John Shepherd's decades of alien-obsessed loneliness to finding true love feels abrupt and rushed. We get the facts, some archival footage, and present-day interviews, but the audience is left feeling like they read the Cliff's Notes version -- told rather than shown. It's over and done with too quickly, at the expense of a greater emotional depth that's clearly there, but unexplored. It's not a bad documentary by any stretch, but its short length leaves a lingering sense of a missed opportunity, that there's more to this than what's presented.

Movie Details

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