Forty years after Steven Spielberg’s “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” came out, I saw the movie for the first time. “E.T.” is back on the big screen in IMAX theaters for a limited time. Between “Bullet Train” a few weeks ago and “Wakanda Forever” in November, old blockbusters are the new blockbusters. I figured out why I didn’t watch “E.T.” as a 12-year-old boy when it first came out in the summer of 1982. “E.T.” was boring.
Why I Didn’t See E.T. in 1982
I grew up in what the girls in my seventh-grade class called a “poor family” in 1984. My family didn’t have cable TV to watch MTV and we couldn’t afford an Apple 2 computer. When I told my father, he laughed out aloud.
The only monthly subscription my family had was the morning or afternoon newspaper, depending on which edition gave us the best monthly rate. A monthly cable bill to watch MTV was an extra expense that they weren’t going to pay for. Especially since the radio in my father’s truck got only two stations: country and talk.
An Apple 2 computer with two floppy drives and a monitor cost as much as a down payment on a new car. The only way anyone in my neighborhood could buy a complete Apple 2 system was on a credit card. My father didn’t have a credit score until he bought a new truck and paid off the balance in two months. That was in 2005 when he was 70 years old.
The only movie I did see at the movie theater in 1982 was “Conan the Barbarian” with Arnold Schwarzenegger. My father had to take me because it was an R-rated movie and he hated going to the movie theaters. He could watch movies for free on TV and make his own popcorn at home for less money.
I never saw “E.T.” when it on TV a few years later.
E.T. The Movie
If you’re like me and had never seen “E.T.”, here’s a short run down
E.T. is exploring the forest outside of his spaceship at night. Trucks pulled up and men jump out with flashlights. The spaceship takes off without him and he runs downhill into suburbia.
Elliot, his older brother and younger sister takes E.T. into their home like a stray puppy. He hides from their mother and the dog in a walk-in closet. E.T. figures out how to phone home with children’s toys and alien magic.
When the spaceship fails to answer the distress signal that night, E.T. has a medical crisis the next morning. The government storms the house in spacesuits, examines both E.T. and Elliot, and declares E.T. as dead. The death of E.T. last all but five minutes.
E.T. returns from the dead when he receives a signal that the spaceship was coming back. E.T. and the children escape from the house with a wild bike ride through suburbia. Everyone arrives at the forest to say goodbye to E.T. before the spaceship takes him home.
If you’re serious about UFOs, “Close Encounters of The Third Kind” was a better movie than “E.T.”
Several Problems With E.T.
I had several problems with “E.T.” besides being boring.
- Product placements for “Jaws” and “Star Wars” were everywhere in the movie. That didn’t surprise me since I had a Jaws T-shirt and Star Wars toys as a kid coming out of the 1970s. I thought the movie went overboard with a shark toy to terrorize a goldfish bowl of guppies. I did appreciate the “Close Encounter” reference with a train set in the family room. And the only Star Trek joke about beaming up to the spaceship.
- The “sinister government officials” beating around the bushes turned out to be men from NASA. That was typical for UFO movies in the 1970s and 1980s. If “E.T.” got remade today, it would be men in black suits, black sunglasses, and black SUVs.
- What disturbed me the most was the fake spacesuit with the space shuttle logo invading the house. The spacesuit was unnecessary from an operational point of view as everyone wore hazmat suits. The space shuttle logo was another product placement that felt out of place. Although the space shuttle launched for the first time the year before, the shuttle logo didn’t belong in “E.T.”
- I saw “E.T.” on a laser digital IMAX screen that wasn’t originally recorded on IMAX 70mm film. Blowing up 35mm film from standard to 70mm IMAX showed a lot of film grain. Especially in darkest areas of the screen at the beginning of the movie. That was distracting since IMAX is known for better visual quality.
After waiting 40 years to see “E.T.,” I didn’t miss much as a kid.