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*batteries not included More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

good family fare

7/10
Author: SnoopyStyle
12 February 2016

Elderly couple Frank (Hume Cronyn) and Faye Riley (Jessica Tandy) who is suffering from dementia run a small diner in an old apartment building. The NYC neighborhood is being torn down. Thugs led by Carlos hired by property developer Lacey and his henchman Kovacs (John Pankow) are pushing the tenants out. The tenants include pregnant Marisa Esteval (Elizabeth Peña), former boxer Harry Knoble (Frank McRae) and starving artist Mason Baylor desperate to save the building. The cops refuse to help. A couple of small UFOs arrive and change everything.

This definitely has the tone of an old Disney family film. Like those movies, this is strictly family fare which does tackle some slightly darker issues. The tone can be a little awkward at times for modern audiences but it absolutely works for this film. The special effects are terrific for the time. This features Brad Bird who contributed to his first theatrical screenplay in this.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Charming fairytale with an '80s twist

9/10
Author: zyrcona from United Kingdom
27 October 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I remember this film from the '80s and recently bought it on DVD, and it is still an original and fresh idea and a very sweet story. The main characters are an elderly couple Frank and Faye. Faye is unfortunately suffering the early effects of dementia and her husband Frank is her carer. These two characters are very sympathetically written and acted and have a believable backstory -- they have lived all their married life in the ageing city building they are in the story, where they run a café, but now developers want them out so they can demolish the building. The other characters are less developed and not so interesting, a retired boxer, a painter, and a pregnant woman who has a long-distance relationship with the father of her foetus, so the focus is really on the elderly couple. It is refreshing to see a film about this kind of relationship, rather than yet another soggy romance or a generic story about kids as a character backdrop to this kind of fantasy story.

The *other* characters in the story are a pair, and later a family, of benevolent biomechanical creatures who construct a nest out of junk on the roof and start repairing broken items about the place and eating others. Some people in other reviews have identified these creatures as 'aliens' or 'spaceships'. While it is speculated initially by the other characters that the creatures may be spaceships for 'tiny aliens' or come from other worlds, when one of them is studied under a magnifying glass by a character, he sees lots of little circuits, and not 'tiny aliens' and since the creatures mate and give birth to offspring this would suggest they are living organisms in their own right. There is also not really anything to support the idea of them being of extraterrestrial origin, and it's probably more likely they are something that came about as part experiment, part natural evolution on Earth, although the question of where they come from is never addressed.

A few people have also claimed this film rips off ET and a film called Cocoon. 'ET' is a story about a boy finding an alien creature. I have not seen 'Cocoon' so I read a synopsis of it, and it is a story about elderly people finding a fountain of eternal youth created by aliens. 'Batteries Not Included' to me is nothing like either of these. It is an urban fantasy version of the 'pixies down the garden' trope with an '80s twist on the pixies. And I enjoyed it when I first saw it, and I enjoyed it again more recently. It's a sweet, quirky story and a clever idea.

It's a shame it isn't a better-known film, but I suspect there are reasons for that, and there are some problems with it as a film meant to appeal to family audiences. Firstly, the story about Faye's Alzheimer's, even though it is a refreshing change, is by its nature grim. Although the story ends happily, I am left with the expectation that Faye's condition will inevitably deteriorate soon to the point that Frank can no longer care for her and they can't continue to live together in the home they have spent their life in. A similarly grim theme is that when the biomechanical mother gives birth to her 'chicks' one of them is stillborn, although it is later revived by one of the human characters, which is sweet, but young children may get upset or not understand the birth scene.

The second problem is the main antagonist, a thug hired by the developer to evict the residents of the property, in that he is extremely violent, breaking into the property wielding axes and cudgels and threatening the residents and smashing up their property. Halfway through the film he unprovokedly attacks, and apparently kills, the father of the little biomechanical family (although he is later repaired by his mate) in a scene that would likely be deeply upsetting for young children, and towards the end he violently assaults a man and sets fire to the building, before somewhat redeeming himself by rescuing Faye from the burning ruins.

In summary, this is a delightful film, but may be unsuitable for young or sensitive children due to the violence in what would otherwise be quite a gentle story, and some darker themes.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Familiar story. But at least the aliens are original

8/10
Author: DAVID SIM from United Kingdom
1 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sometimes I wish Steven Spielberg didn't always look to the stars for salvation. In recent years, he's made a concerted effort to rein in some of his wish-fulfilment fantasies when making SF. With mixed success. Minority Report is probably the best of his recent films. It represented a more grittier side to Spielberg that doesn't often surface. AI had great potential but Spielberg forgot what the story was supposed to be about, and indulged his saccharine side to the detriment of the film.

Of course back in the 80s, one of Spielberg's favourite themes was the idea of friendly aliens coming into contact with the human race. First was Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Then the inexplicable success of ET. And then the likes of Batteries Not Included.

Now Batteries Not Included wasn't directed by Spielberg. In fact it was one of several that he produced. Films like this, and Gremlins and Back to the Future. All films that were directed by other people but undoubtedly have his sensibilities stamped on them. And indeed in the case of BNI, we once again have a fable about benevolent aliens straightening out our lives.

BNI is by no means a bad film. Its quite likable. But it can't shake a certain predictability that dogs the story throughout. Instead of ET befriending a lonely boy, we have a group of disparate people living in a tenement block that faces demolition. The cast is not bad either. Real life husband and wife Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy are great as Frank and Faye Riley, the elderly couple pressured to leave their home to make way for an office block.

We also have Elizabeth Pena's pregnant girl, Dennis Boutsikaris's struggling artist, and Frank McRae's gentle giant of a boxer. All people who have just about given up on themselves. Frank and Faye's situation is not helped by Faye lost in her own senility. Reliving the glory days when her son Bobby was alive and they still lived in a happy home. A desperate Frank prays for a miracle.

And a miracle comes in the form of tiny spaceships. Multi-purpose flying machines that have a knack for fixing broken things. Both mechanically and spiritually. As the boarders band together, and the flying saucers fix up their building, they begin to get back some of the self-respect they've lost over time. And in return, the ships get the chance to start a family of their own. By using bits and bobs from the building to make more of their kind.

What lifts a potentially hum-drum story out of the doldrums is the effects and ideas that went into creating the aliens in this film. The aliens in Batteries Not Included are fairly unique. I've never seen in any other story aliens that resemble the ones in this film. Brad Bird was on the writing staff. A man responsible for excellent work like The Iron Giant and The Incredibles. And I'm sure he came up with some fantastic ideas here too.

The chief pleasure of BNI is the way the tiny spaceships actually seem like living beings. The filmmakers do a great job of making them recognisably male and female. They have all kinds of implements for every situation. Everything from miniature cutting saws to personal electrical plugs. And they can even have children. The writers quite astonishingly make the 'courting' scenes between the saucers actually seem romantic. They glide through the air with all the grace of a couple of ballroom dancers.

Really, any scene with the ships is a delight. Like the Mother Ship giving her children flying lessons. Or learning to flip burgers in the Riley's restaurant. Being a Spielberg film, the effects are not surprisingly top notch. They haven't lost any of their sparkle over the years, and the ships soar through the air without any signs of creakiness or shoddiness.

The cast all give quite competent performances but if truth be told are upstaged whenever the ships are around. As things draw to a close, the sentimentality meter starts to lurch dangerously into the red. One of the ships being damaged recalls the sickly tone of the dire Short Circuit 2. Or the building being razed to the ground only to be rebuilt by a whole fleet of tiny ships is a bit hard to swallow. Although that scene where the sky is filled with seemingly hundreds of them is quite a sight to see.

I don't completely buy into the ending that a whole bunch of skyscrapers would be built around that tenement building instead of over it, but nonetheless, Batteries Not Included provides quite an entertaining mix. It has a charm that carries it along. And it might even convince you to sleep with the window open for any late night visitors.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Smart But Bittersweet

7/10
Author: Elswet from .: Fiendish Writings in the Dark :.
29 March 2007

Many reviewers have fond memories of this work, and I have to admit that I do find this quite fun, but there are moments herein which are quite tense and mean, and lead to an overall bittersweetness which permeates the work. I blame that completely on Mick Garris. This work could have been great if it weren't for his inclusion of the "bd guy" element. This work did not need such a device, and it severely took away from the beauty of the work.

Mick Garris has been single-handedly responsible for the bastardization of most of the Stephen King film adaptations.

Directed by Matthew Robbins (Close Encounters writer) and Exec'd by Steven Spielberg, you may appropriately expect a small amount of awe generated by the beautiful effects and the endearing characters. *batteries not included does deliver. Also, these actors were a sure thing. I am sure you'll remember most of them from Ron Howard's Cocoon.

If you enjoy Cocoon or High Spirits, I would suggest this.

It rates a 6.7/10 from...

the Fiend :.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A film I searched for years...

10/10
Author: everanju from Sri Lanka
13 April 2009

I saw this film for the first time back in the mid 90's when i was just a kid. And that led me searching for this movie for good 13 or 14 years coz I couldn't remember the name and only thing I knew was that Spielberg did it. Back then I was living in a area where the technological advances were minimal and very low recourses and very little international exposure. But I knew Spielberg because of E.T and Indiana Jones which I watched before this film. And just like those this one garbed my childhood imaginations and became one of the favorites.

Yes its not a great movie if you compare it with E.T or a Dark knight... But every genre or every type of creation has its audience. It might not win the hearts of the judges at CANNES or Oscars but defiantly it will win hearts of those kids and people who are young at heart and who can enjoy a sweetness of a film.

I rate it a ten coz I loved it so much and coz I searched it for years and I was so happy to find it.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

superb

9/10
Author: The Dude from Texas, USA
29 September 2001

I remember renting this video back when it first came out on vhs. Not only is it the same few people from cacoon that do a great job but the entire cast does as well. Everyone should enjoy this light hearted fun film for all ages. Enjoy!

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Wholly underrated film...

9/10
Author: No One from Australia
10 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is, quite possibly, Spielberg's best film. 'E.T.: The Extraterrestrial', 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind', 'Jaws'; all good films, but as far as family entertainment goes you can't go past this little gem.

The plot is fairly straightforward. An elderly couple, a struggling artist, a pregnant woman and a former boxer are the last few residents in an apartment building on the verge of being bulldozed by a greedy property developer. They need a miracle. Their prayers are answered by these 'little guys' (flying alien robot dudes :P), who like to fix things and have come to Earth to make teeny little robots of their own (hooray!) and generally make life a whole lot better for the residents and bring them all together.

I first saw this film when I was 10, and I've loved it ever since. It's hard to believe that a film like this has been left stagnating for years without anyone knowing about it. This film makes me laugh and cry even today. The characters are likable and both Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy turn in believable (and wonderful) performances as Frank and Faye Riley. You can't call yourself a Spielberg aficionado until you've seen this film. Great fun for all ages. A must see!

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful

10/10
Author: LivingDog from NYC, NY
29 May 2006

Heart warming fun nostalgic adventure romp between evil developer, residents of a period piece building and ... "batteries not included." It all starts with tenants occupying their last vestige of memories and hope in a large city grown cold to their past tradition and history. The tenants are brought to the end of their rope until ... (see the movie :).

The entire cast was made for each other. From Hume Cronyn as Frank Riley, and Owner Riley's Cafe; Jessica Tandy as Faye Riley (Frank's wife); Frank McRae as ex-fighter Harry Noble; Elizabeth Peña as the beautiful and warm Seniorita Marisa Esteval; Michael Carmine as the not-so-evil Carlos; and last but not least, Dennis Boutsikaris as the struggling artist Mason Baylor. They all performed their roles as if they worked together for years.

The movie itself had an excellent mix of the old with the new. If you have a heart, then this movie is a must see for all members of the family. 10/10

-LD

http://www.angelfire.com/ny5/jbc33/

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

This movie does have charm!

10/10
Author: (jijotomyp@hotmail.com) from India
27 January 2006

I rented this movie on a tape way back in 1990 from the local store. I watched it with a couple of my cousins. Even now when we get together, we talk about this movie.

The movie is so simple. Like Oscar Wilde's short stories. It doesn't jolt you or thrill you. It moves you. So you remember it for a long time to come.

Most of the scenes have faded from my mind's screen but the feeling lingers. Like the cookies my Granny used to bake.

Three things that make this movie my favorite: The story (no one has tried to make it complicated). The characters (People we see every day especially in the 80's). The Aliens (I wouldn't want to call them that!).

Do I want to watch it once again? Yes, but I might not. I'm afraid my grown-up mind would put on a critic's glass and the magic might get lost.

"Batteries not Included" definitely had Charm! Or else I wouldn't be searching for it on the net and writing my comment when I have hundreds of things to do.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A Nice Clear Cut Enjoyable Movie (Possible Spoilers)

7/10
Author: mwendel (mr.michael.wendel@gmail.com) from Kings Park, NY
20 December 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Every time I see this film, in part or in whole, I enjoy it thoroughly. It's not a movie where the acting makes me cringe, or there's a character that makes me go "I've seen this guy a million times over". I believe the characters are good and solid. The scenario (not the outcome) is plausible and the situation I am sure many people in their lifetimes have been in.

The movie, I believe, besides being designed to entertain both children and adults alike, was made to make the adults think about what's going on in the world at large: -Are all the big capitalists destroying all our links to the past and the "good old" times, in the name of greed? - Can the residents of a community, no matter how large or small, be heard when they band together and cry out? Many of you may feel that I am reaching but, I think its these larger aspects in some cases that gets a film of this nature made and makes it more appealing on the drawing board. (Plus, I think the answer to both questions is yes.) But enough of the socio-political analysis of the film.

Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy give strong solid performances as an aging couple with very real problems in a modern world. I think the issues they have are not uncommon among our aging population and make it a movie that both they and their children can relate to (more analysis, sorry). Their characters are lovable and crushing simultaneously, as Jessica Tandy's character is ill with what I believe was Alzheimer's and Hume Cronyn did the best not to burst the bubble she had wrapped herself in as a result.

With a strong supporting cast of unknowns playing likeable people with believable character flaws, the movies really gains strength. You really take a liking to all of these characters as they just struggle to maintain their everyday life in the play they want to live in. And none of these characters will scare the kids.

Then enter in the X factor - cute palm sized robots that come from who knows where - nor does anyone really care I think. I found these robots to be unique and disgustingly cute - no where before can I recall in all the movies I've watched, have a seen something similar - nor since either. These robots are curious, intelligent, and very entertaining to watch. Additionally, they save the day in the movie. (More analysis) They prevent the movie from becoming an overbearingly strong socio-political movie about the tactics and behaviors of big business versus the small individuals that is constantly replayed over and over in our society everyday.

Either way, its some classic actors, some unknown supporting actors and some very cute robots all coming together to make a film that can be watched over and over for many reasons by both young and old alike.

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