*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.
*batteries not included brings out the best in all of us. With a little faith in ourselves and the people around us, good things can happen. It had been years since I had seen the movie. I loved it then. And now, I still love it. Every day life has its ups and downs, feeling good about something makes a lot better.
Hume and Jessica did superb performances. The rest of the cast did very well. Even mom and pop flyers out did themselves. Can't forget the kids either. lol. The story was well written. The location was perfect.
The overall story is out of this world, but who cares. For a time chance to feel good after seeing it. I'd watch it over and over.
Naturally, the film also sports great production values, with Spielberg, Kennedy, and Marshall at it once again. Go see it.
We see an old couple on the verge of despair, as the evil developers threaten to rob them of their last piece of security, their home. Jessica Tandy, whom we have already grown to love in "Driving Miss Daisy" and "Cocoon" (and don't forget "The Birds" from 1963!) is Faye Riley, a pitiful old woman who is losing her mind. Her husband, Frank (played by Hume Cronyn) in his deepest and darkest hour, cries out for deliverance. Before he falls asleep, we see the answer to his prayer arrive.
I am sure that some Christians may not like that the prayers of a poor old man are answered by funny mechanical beings, but I'm also sure that most will agree that God works in mysterious ways. The timing of the arrival is surely deliberate. These people need a miracle, and that is what they get.
Hope for the few remaining tenants reside in the friendship they develop with tiny flying mechanical creatures, which demonstrate intelligence and good will. Besides proving that even machines can be cute, they also prove that faith is a powerful ally to have on your side, which is strong enough to stand up to the evils of the world.
Sentimental? You bet! This is NOT a fault! (Say it with me, people!) This is what makes the story special.
It is never explained to the audience what these beings are, or what planet, dimension, or reality they are from. But for the people who benefit from their friendship, that doesn't matter. What matters is that they get the help they need, just in time to save their only home from being destroyed.
And the way this plan works out makes good commentary on the goodness of all the people involved, as well as some delightful entertainment.
Equally important as Frank and Faye is Harry, a simple minded but good natured man who fixes things. Played by Frank McRaye, he earns the love and appreciation of his peers as he figures out how to serve the needs of their newfound friends.
If you have heart strings, this movie, and all the actors in it, will surely pluck at them. If you are a robot, then I hope this movie serves as an example of how good a mechanical life form can be.
See this movie. You'll be glad you did.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :.
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.