A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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."
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.?
- In theaters: July 11, 1986
- On DVD or streaming: June 1, 2004
- Cast: Joey Cramer, Paul Reubens, Sarah Jessica Parker
- Director: Randal Kleiser
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Space and Aliens
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: a smattering of swear words, some scary situations
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.