Unidentified Flying Oddball

Movie review by
Tom Cassidy, Common Sense Media
Unidentified Flying Oddball Movie Poster Image
Disney time-travel fantasy adventure has mild peril.
  • G
  • 1979
  • 93 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Lead character uses brains and integrity to outwit and expose a corrupt knight. Friendships develop despite differences -- and despite coming from different time periods.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tom enjoys his work and enthusiastically tackles his assignment. He uses his scientific knowledge to get himself out of sticky situations. A character who first thinks Tom is a monster gets to know him and they become friends.

Violence

A character is about to be burned at the stake but escapes. Two characters have a long comic and theatrical sword fight. Character falls off a high castle wall into water. A humanoid robot loses an arm and head in a joust. Robot's mechanical innards exposed after being damaged. Troops are knocked over domino-style down a set of stairs. A big battle scene has many sword fights and people falling from heights.

Sex

An adult magazine -- the cover has a woman in a bikini -- features throughout the movie. Two characters kiss through a space helmet.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Unidentified Flying Oddball is a 1979 Disney live-action time-traveling adventure movie with some moments of peril and mild violence. The movie is based on the Mark Twain novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and was also released as A Spaceman in King Arthur's Court and The Spaceman and King Arthur. Astronaut Tom Trimble (Dennis Dugan) and his android double arrive in King Arthur's (Kenneth More) Camelot and endure sword fights and jousts. During the fight scenes, characters fall from heights and a robot loses its head and arm, but no one is seriously harmed. In one scene, Tom is about to be burned at the stake; he escapes, but the scene still presents a scary image and concept. An adult magazine -- a bikini-clad woman is clearly visible on the cover -- is shown a number of times throughout the movie.

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What's the story?

In UNIDENTIFIED FLYING ODDBALL, NASA scientist Tom Trimble (Dennis Dugan) creates an android replica of himself, Hermes, for a time-travel test flight. Unfortunately, he accidentally goes back in time with him. Arriving in King Arthur's (Kenneth More) Camelot, Tom must try to find a way back home.

Is it any good?

For the most part, this movie is a light and fun adventure that just about happily passes the time. Dugan plays both his human and android roles in a breezy manner, but it's the supporting cast that carries Unidentified Flying Oddball (also known as A Spaceman in King Arthur's Court and The Spaceman and King Arthur) when it runs out of steam about an hour in. British actor Kenneth More brings his well-honed stagecraft to the role of King Arthur, presenting a commanding king with an always exposed, naturally likable vulnerability. Jim Dale -- star of the Brit comedy Carry On series -- oozes grease as the slimy villain Sir Mordred, and Sheila White's naive village girl Sandy, who thinks her father is a goose, is a joy to watch.

A generation of people grew up watching this on VHS. The HD transfer will give its fans an enhanced experience, with its bright color palette -- reminiscent of Disney's 1973 animated version of Robin Hood -- positively popping out the screen. In HD, however, hokey special effects and wires on jet packs are more visible than ever, but that can all be overlooked for what is essentially a light and fluffy adventure-comedy. While it's not a classic, the performances at least make it memorable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the scarier moments in Unidentified Flying Oddball. Which scenes did you find most troubling? Did the fact that the movie has funny moments change how you felt about the scary parts? Why do you think that was?

  • Discuss the concept of time travel. What advantages and disadvantages might it bring?

  • The people of Camelot initially view Tom's technology as monstrous and magical. What technology might exist in the future that would amaze us today?

  • Hermes the android develops his own thoughts and feelings. Discuss artificial intelligence. Should robots be considered the same as humans?

Movie details

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