*batteries not included (1987)
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In my opinion it should be up there with Star Wars and E.T as a cult classic. It'll make you laugh, cry and hate the bad guy.
I definitely recommend it! Go watch it!
First and foremost, this movie contains stronger characters (and places more emphasis on them) than most popcorn movies of today. If only a movie like TOMB RAIDER or MUMMY RETURNS (or even CATS & DOGS) were to pay as much attention to characterization!
The sci-fi elements, while cheesy, actually serve a purpose, and work quite well within the framework of the story. It's essentially a feature-length episode of "AMAZING STORIES."
Ultimately, this is a small movie with a small scope and intimate feel. Is it dated? Yes. Is it perfect? No. But it is a charming little movie that might be worth a second look.
If you'll look at the writing credits, you'll notice that the head writer is none other than one Brad Bird, who today works for Pixar. *Batteries Not Included might be sappy for a Spielberg flick, but it is right on target for Brad Bird. Rather than comparing it to E.T. or Cocoon, this movie is more properly compared to The Iron Giant and Toy Story--two movies that successfully bring out the humanity in inanimate objects.
If this movie came out in 2007 instead of 1987, you'd probably see a Pixar logo on the trailer. For now, just pretend it's computer animated and enjoy the show!
Frank and Faye Riley (Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy)own the cafe that's located on the first floor of the building they live in. Among the other tenants is a former boxer (Frank McRae), a pregnant woman (Elizabeth Pena) and a starving artist (Dennis Boutsikaris). They band together and try to stop an angry developer (John Pankow) and his assistant (Michael Carmine (II)) out to run them from the building. They're assisted by some mechanical aliens and discover the meaning of forgiveness and family, acceptance and love.
Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy are the two oldest tenants of a small walk-up and run a diner. They are being bullied by real-estate developers, and a money-hungry thug (Michael Carmine) is determined to get them out so he can get a huge cash settlement from the greedy people who have been paying him off. Other tenants break down and sign the relocation agreement, but the stubborn Cronyn refuses. As the threats get worse, Cronyn, Tandy and their fellow tenants get a little help from somewhere in Steven Spielberg's mind. He didn't direct this, but his production company did produce it, and there is the obvious touch of his hand within the special effects.
Tandy's character is suffering from dementia and obviously believes Carmine to be her long dead son. This creates for a touching twist when the film explodes into its dramatic conclusion and gives Carmine some truly multi-dimensional layers to add to his character. The fabulous Doris Belack has an amusing small role, her memory from tons of T.V. soaps (as well as "The Golden Girls" and dozens of movies including "Tootsie" and "She-Devil" embedded in your mind) and the shot at the end is a sign that even in the ruthless corporate world of a metropolis like Manhattan, the meek will inherit the earth and good will ultimately rule over evil.