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A 12-year-old boy goes missing in 1978, only to reappear once more in 1986. In the eight years that have passed, he hasn't aged. It is no coincidence that at the time he "comes back", a flying saucer is found, entangled in power lines. Written by
'Flight of the Navigator' might have been produced in the mid-Eighties but it certainly hasn't lost it's charm over the last twenty years and it does stand up well against more recent family film offerings.
The story begins in 1978 with twelve-year-old David Freeman, a happy all-American kid who lives with his loving parents and typically bratty eight-year-old brother Jeff. One night he sets off into the woods to look for Jeff only to be knocked unconscious when he falls from a ravine. When David awakes in what seems like hours later to him, he discovers actually eight years have passed and it is now 1986. Although he is still twelve years old, the world has moved on and even his little brother is older than he is. NASA are very interested in David when his EEG scan reveal readings in the shape of a UFO they have discovered and other scans of the boy result in star charts of distant galaxies being spewed out from the computers. But our hero is determined to return to his family so he breaks free and hides aboard the UFO which holds the key to everything.
Joey Cramer gives a likable performance as David, a boy who enjoys adventures but ultimately just wants to be with his family. I think anyone watching the film would empathise with his character's anger and sense of helplessness when David discovers NASA have no intention of letting him go home. Matt Adler as sixteen-year-old Jeff is another notable actor in the film in the way he depicts his character's uncertainty of dealing with his little big brother and his developing protectiveness towards David. Also, look out for a younger Sarah Jessica Parker.
For those who watched 'Flight of the Navigator' as children in the Eighties, there is definitely a nostalgic feeling to it. However, I think children of present day would still enjoy the film as it has a little of everything and issues raised as still relevant and/or interesting today such as pre-teen crushes, annoying kid brothers, the thrill of following a hero on his 'quest', a fun mentor for the hero (even if it is metallic!) and arrogant scientist-types. It is important to remember that this is a children's film aimed very much at an eight- to twelve-year-old demography so it doesn't delve too deeply but the plot is quite unique, the characters are interesting and it is a film that is well put-together. Certainly one to enjoy with the whole family.
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