The Flight of the Navigator

Movie review by
Sarah Wenk, Common Sense Media
The Flight of the Navigator Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
'80s time-travel adventure has some cursing.
  • PG
  • 1986
  • 90 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Stereotypes, fat jokes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No real positive role models. 


Soldiers point machine guns at the lead character. Lead character falls backwards down a ditch, lands on his head and back. 


The bratty little brother of the lead character calls the lead character's dog "retarded." "S--t" from a teen. "S--t," "hell," and "bastard" from adults. 


Lead character asks an intern at NASA for a Big Mac, fries, and Coke from McDonald's. Intern lists all the types and flavors of Coca-Cola available at the time the movie was set, circa 1986. Robot sings the "Rice-a-Roni" jingle. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Flight of the Navigator is a 1986 science fiction movie in which a 12-year-old Miami boy from 1978 is abducted by an alien and ends up eight years into the future. There are some moments of iffy humor: The bratty little brother of the lead character calls the lead character's dog "retarded"; this same little brother, after a name-calling exchange between the two culminating in "skuzbucket" and "buttface," sticks out his rear end and at his brother while making a face. As a spaceship briefly hovers over Tokyo, all of the several Japanese people observing the spaceship immediately take out and start clicking on their cameras. A fat joke is made at the expense of an obese Florida gas station and gift shop owner. Occasional profanity: a teen says "s--t," adults say "s--t," "hell," and "bastard." 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12-year-old Written byNativeAtlantan May 1, 2018

A gem from another time

Movies like this aren't made anymore. A good, wholesome, fun, exciting, suspenseful, fantasy enjoyable for the whole family. I saw this in the theater at a... Continue reading
Parent of a 2, 6, 8, and 8-year-old Written byFowlerFan September 5, 2014

Language is a problem

It's a shame about the language, otherwise this would be a great movie. S##t is heard a few times along with retard and bastard. Not really necessary eithe... Continue reading
Kid, 7 years old October 2, 2020
Scary time travel but good story. Its about a boy who falls and travel into the future and finds a spaceship and flies it.
Teen, 15 years old Written byHikingmountain September 6, 2020

Some swearing and peril

This movie was great! Some swearing, such as “sh*t”, “g**d*mn”, “retarded”, “id*ot”, “h*ll, and “b*stard”. Also some scary scenes near the start of the movie.

What's the story?

THE FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR begins as David Freeman (Joey Cramer) comes home one night to discover that his family has aged eight years and think he's dead. For David, only a few minutes have gone by. The mystery slowly unravels, leading to David's being taken away by NASA and escaping in a space ship. Eight years have changed things a lot -- David has never seen a music video, and can't believe that Starsky and Hutch isn't on anymore. When David is aboard the ship, he makes friends with its mechanical occupant, Max, who is voiced by Paul Reubens (credited here as Paul Mall), clearly working in his Pee-Wee Herman mode.

Is it any good?

This is an above-average offering from Disney. The sequences on the ship are both funny and touching, as Max and David each try to get home. The special effects are, for the most part, surprisingly fresh and believable, and the opening sequence of dogs playing Frisbee is spectacular.

It's all very well done, with clever shots that make everyday objects look like they just might be from a spacecraft, and very affecting scenes between David and his new, older family. Joey Cramer does a good job in his role. This is a charming movie, with enough drama and humor to please almost any viewer. Just be aware that there is more profanity than you might expect from a PG movie, and there are some stereotypes and dated jokes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how they would feel if everyone in their family were suddenly older while they stayed the same age. 

  • How is this movie similar to and different from other movies centered on time travel? 

  • In a brief scene, humor is attempted by employing the stereotype of Asians overusing their cameras. What are the damaging effects of movies and TV shows that stereotype by race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc.? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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