The Last Starfighter

Movie review by
Joly Herman, Common Sense Media
The Last Starfighter Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Lighthearted space adventure has a fun '80s feel.
  • PG
  • 1984
  • 101 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

At the trailer park where Alex and Maggie live, people help one another to fix things and act like a community. Because of his amazing video game skills, Alex is recruited to go to another planet in order to help the people of Rylos defeat their enemy. He agrees, grudgingly, and works with other alien species to achieve a common goal.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Alex is a stern older brother who watches out for his younger sibling. Maggie takes care of her grandmother. They work toward their goals and are committed to being with each other. Alex's mom works hard, and Alex helps her around the trailer park.


Lasers, rockets, bad aliens with scary faces. This is a movie about an alien race who wants to take over the universe, and as the title suggests, there are shootouts and fight scenes. Because of the lighthearted humor, the violence is not gory. There are explosions though, and Alex's skills as a starfighter are highlighted. Younger viewers might find some of the aliens to be scary.


Teenage make-out sessions are standard, and Alex's mom watches he and Maggie share a long smooch goodnight. Kid brother Louis has a collection of Playboy magazines, which he peruses, though the audience sees no nudity. One teenage girl asks her boyfriend to "talk dirty to me." No body parts are shown, though Maggie complains when Alex's double does not share her sensual enthusiasm.


Louis, the kid brother, cusses more than anybody. Profanity includes "s--t," "crapola," "hell," and "Oh my God."


Budweiser beer sign and beer in hand of trailer park dweller. And yes, Playboy magazine.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alex implies that his friends "get drunk and throw up every Saturday night." Viewers do not see this, but the friends do drive around rowdily and make out at the lake. An old man smokes a pipe and a beer can is seen in an older man's hand.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Alex is recruited to fight aliens, and there are explosions and moments where aliens die. But besides some slightly scary alien faces, there is not much gore. Teenagers on Earth are shown making out by the lake in very '80s hair and makeup. There is some mild profanity as well.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 7, 9, and 11-year-old Written byrubberboots December 25, 2013

Was not OK for our kids.

We started to watch this movie with our kids. My husband remembered it as a great movie from his childhood. We were uncomfortable with the heavy teen making out... Continue reading
Adult Written bydadvantage August 16, 2018

Great Sci-Fi Fun, but for older Tweens and Adults

This is actually a really fun sci-film filled with a lot of adventure, special effects, make-up effects and it's regarded as a first of it's kind in c... Continue reading
Written byAnonymous February 23, 2014

Awesome movie from the 80s, but be careful!

One of the few good Star Wars clones from the sci-fi boom, this movie is a classic movie in many 80's kids hearts. For the parents: Alex's little brot... Continue reading

What's the story?

Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) is tied to the trailer park where his family lives. He wants to go to away to college, in order make something of his life. But when his application for a student loan is turned down, his hopes crumble. The only thing -- other than his girlfriend Maggie -- that brings him joy is playing the video game called the Last Starfighter. In fact, he is so good at the game that he breaks the machine's record, attracting admiration from all of the community. What he doesn't realize is that the video game is a recruiting device designed by a fast-talking alien named Centauri (Robert Preston.) Centauri comes to Earth to take Alex to the planet Rylos to fight on his planet's behalf. Alex is unwilling to take on the challenge, but changes his mind once he returns to Earth to find that real danger lurks outside his trailer window.

Is it any good?

THE LAST STARFIGHTER isn't the absolute best outer space action film ever made, but it has heart, and older kids will enjoy the weird aliens and video game themes. Parents might enjoy remembering when one video game machine was all it took to make a Saturday night memorable.

Though Star Wars fans might notice some musical and special effects similarities, these rip-offs don't detract too much from the movie's positive qualities. One of these pluses is the presence of Robert Preston, who plays Centauri, a fly-by-night recruiter of star-fighting talent. Without Preston, the movie could be a pass, but his big-tent voice and charisma gives this movie a memorable lift. Overall, a decent watch for sci-fi fans.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Parents can talk about older movies. Does this one feel too dated to be relevant? Do the old-fashioned styles distract from the action? Could you see this movie being remade? If so, how could it be updated, and what actors would you like to see playing the main roles?

  • Discuss the role of video games and their cultural role. There's a scene where Alex breaks the record on the video game. Everyone in the trailer park comes to watch him do this and to celebrate his victory. Is this a realistic scenario in this day and age? Why not?

  • Alex is not sure that he wants to be a starfighter. What changes his mind? Do you agree with this decision?

  • Maggie and Alex decide to be together "forever." What does forever mean to you? Can a teenager know what forever means? Why or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love aliens

Themes & Topics

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