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Reviews & Ratings for
*batteries not included More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A Nice Clear Cut Enjoyable Movie (Possible Spoilers)

Author: mwendel ( 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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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Heartwarming & Sad

Author: Cylex from England
12 August 2001

I love a good tearjerker & this is one of the best. The tenants are at the heart of this. They are all well played, especially Faye (Jessica Tandy) & Frank (Hume Cronyn)The visiting spacecraft are an added delight. The score is brilliant. 8/10

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

*batteries not included but Jessica and Hume are included.

Author: Rodrigo Amaro ( from São Paulo, Brazil
1 April 2010

When "*batteries not included" was released many critics panned this movie saying that "the mix between "Cocoon" and "E.T." didn't resulted a great movie as these". In one hand I agree with them in this matter. This film doesn't have the adventure side that "Cocoon" and "E.T." had, because it's centered in one place, it doesn't have much action and it has many dialogs. But on the other hand I think that "*batteries not included" it's a good movie, features the great performances by the couple Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, and the supporting cast are also great. Not only that. It is a watchful little movie way better than today movies.

Here, a group of tenants are forced to move out of their building so that it can be demolished and transformed into a magnificent project. Despite the company pays them to move out they don't want to leave the place. Of course it's the only place they know. But suddenly aliens (in tiny little robots form) show up and help Tandy, Cronyn, Dennis Boutsikaris, Elizabeth Peña and Frank McRae to defeat the developers of the new construction.

Best things in the movie: all the scenes between Jessica and Hume (they're just wonderful together in everything, in real life and on screen life); the funny aliens moments specially when they electrocutes Carlos (Michael Carmine, very good actor who unfortunately didn't live enough to do more movies); and the effective special effects.

If the movie wasn't centered only in the building (when it moves forward to the city one hour has passed and many people might get very tired of watching) and the presence of a more stronger and funny plot was presented it could be a greater movie than it is. Highly recommended. 9/10

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Uplifting story about a group of apartment dwellers...

Author: dwpollar from Evansville, Indiana USA
11 November 2006

1st watched 11/11/2006 - 7 out of 10(Dir-Matthew Robbins): Uplifting story about a group of apartment dwellers who don't want to leave their building while the neighborhood around them is leveled so that a new business complex can be built. After prayers and wishes are offered up to the heavens, a couple of electricity-needing otherworldly miniature spacecrafts come to their assistance by fixing things after getting what they need. The bad guy in the story works for the tycoon putting up the new highrises and first offers them money to leave their residences then starts destroying their properties to bully them into leaving. The group who want to stay is led by the Hume Cronyn character who owns a restaurant, that's on the 1st floor of the building, with his alzheimer-ridden wife played by Jessica Tandy. They make a great couple as always with the supporting players layering on enough neediness to keep the viewer routing for them. This is a forgotten classic of a movie that was overlooked in the Spielberg-hyped era and if I remember right it was advertised as being another Close-encounteresque type of movie when it weighs much more heavily on the human side. One of the executive producers was Spielberg, so the advertising was probably trying to cash in on that. Definitely worth another look if you hadn't seen it in awhile because it's well done from beginning to end and is a thought provoking essay into believing in your dreams and not letting go.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

One of the worst films of the 1980's

Author: soranno from Las Vegas, Nevada
27 October 2002

Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, who were previously teamed in the pleasant family drama "Cocoon" highlight this 1987 Universal release, a severe mess of a fantasy comedy and one of the decade's all time worst films. Minor shades of "Cocoon" are occasionally (though not successfully) evident in this ridiculous tale of a group of tiny aliens and their tiny metal ships who try to help a group of people prevent themselves from being evicted. Absolutely horrible.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Charming and Fairly Witty

Author: AJ-92 from AKRON, OH, USA
17 June 2001

I loved this movie when I first saw it. I still like it a lot, but nowhere near as much as I used to. The comedy and cute little spaceship thingies is what drew me into "*Batteries Not Included." This is like "E.T." in a more cute and cuddly way. In this nice family flick, elderly inhabitants of an apartment find small spaceship-looking creatures in their home, but the secret can't be kept for long. Punks are forcing people out of their apartments, including our main stars. Can they keep their place for long? "Dun dun...." If you like funny family films or are looking for a flick to keep your kids entertained, this will work for you. But if you are a fan of "E.T." and expect the exact same here (I don't like the flick, but I understand its so-called "superiority"), look elsewhere.


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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

*batteries not included

Author: Tim Cox from Marietta, OH
13 July 1999

A group of poor tenants with nothing more than determination to stop the destruction of their building are nothing less delighted when a few friends from outer space help out. Paper thin script doesn't help, although the always venerable Cronyn and Tandy and some dazzling special effects do what they can to lift the film up.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Great old-timers Comedy

Author: Bill Goode from Los Angeles
23 June 2004

I saw this film a long time ago when in first came out in theatres and just saw it again on DVD. It is very funny. It was great to see long-time veteran actors as Hume Cronyn & Jessica Tandy putting out such great old style comedy, not the stuff today that tests the censors. Just good clean fun. Nothing here to offend anyone, as it's just poking fun at the sci-fi.

You don't see much of this style of comedy anymore. Now days comedy is built around sex, romance or race. But the comedy here is centered on the sci-fi of the film. Great relief to get away from socio-political-sex issues. Anyone could enjoy this film. Young people can enjoy the sci-fi while older people can identify with the age of the characters. All can enjoy the comedy.

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Let's save this script with a little extraterrestrial magic

Author: nathanschubach from Northwest Ohio
26 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

At age 30, I just watched this for the first time the other day, and I have to say, I know why I wasn't into it for as long as it's been out. There's something a bit less-than-family-entertaining about senile old people just trying to get by as a local gang of ruffians attempts to beat up tenants and muscle them out of comfortable living. Even a huge former boxer was afraid of these guys at some point, and then he turns out to be a 1-2 brawler out of nowhere. And for some reason, the story needs to hang onto the story of an artist who's courting a resident pregnant woman with no support for her in sight. It's chaos!

So out of nowhere comes some magic that patches the entire motley crew together. Must be nice! Where were you creatures in the 2012 movie? I won't give away what the movie poster doesn't give away already: a tiny spaceship is involved. The magic element of this spaceship (and possible other magic powers?) is what makes me groan all the way through the movie. I personally cannot stand watching a magic element at the beck and call of a rundown community.

The movie was fun at times, watching the spaceship animation in composite shots; I like watching older movies that still shot like this for special effects because they still seem a lot more "real" than CGI does. The story is very blah: it relies on the special magic forces that fix everything a little too much. Jessica Tandy and Tom Aldredge really took the acting duties for this one, mainly because the other characters were a bit bland. The gang that followed the one main Latin dude reminded me of most bad 80's gangs, almost like the rat gang in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.

Overall, I wasn't very impressed by it. I didn't have any childhood moments other than the dated special effects (good, but dated). The villains were there simply as a plot point without much background as to why these people had to leave this shamble of a building. Why would they stay? It's a hazard for god's sake! I would recommend it to those feeling nostalgic, but not for modern kids nor adults. It wasn't that entertaining.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

On a scale of one to Casablanca, this film is a "The Secret of NIMH" (1982)

Author: happygoluckyduck from USA
6 February 2010

Aliens are not often benevolent creatures in the movies. They tend to want earth or earthlings for food or some other devious end. But sometimes you meet nice aliens at the movies, like E.T. or the guys from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and it's refreshing. "*Batteries Not Included" may have the most munificent extra-terrestrials since the alien that didn't blow us up in "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951). They are robotic saucers from outer space, about the size of a hub cap. It is unclear whether they are biological or mechanical or both. They can be fixed by toaster parts but they can also give birth. Strange little fellows.

The story is set almost entirely in a condemned apartment building where various residents have resisted the buy-outs from an evil real estate developer. Though their homes are invaded and vandalized by hired street thugs, the long-time tenants of the building refuse to leave. These tenants include Frank Riley (Hume Cronyn), an old man whose whole life has been wrapped up in this building. He raised his family in this building and he owns a small diner on the first floor that has been his livelihood. His wife Faye (Jessica Tandy) is fading mentally, appearing to have a mish-mash of Alzheimer's and post traumatic stress disorder. Another tenant is Mason Baylor, a struggling artist who thinks the building has historical value. He brings a city examiner to assess whether the building is worth preserving and she promptly tells him it's in such a despicable condition she can't help him.

Enter the little guys. The saucers show up exactly when the tenant's situation looks to be most hopeless. They arrive at night and start lurking about the apartment building, plugging into electric sockets and fixing small things. Soon the tenants begin to notice that someone (or something) is doing renovation work on their building. They fix unfixable things like broken glass and tarnished wood. When it comes to pass that the tenants find out about these creatures, they understand that the saucers are here for their benefit and soon they become mutual allies.

What's so fun about "*Batteries Not Included" is seeing how these strange saucer robots actually become like real neighbors to the tenants. They help out at Frank's diner and aid in scaring away the neighborhood thugs. We get to see the saucers start a family and deal with tragedy and witness how their neighbors help them through. Essentially, the saucers become characters just as real as the tenants. And they're always fixing, fixing, fixing.

This is a good family film. At times it's a little scary and speaks to some dark truths (there is a robot miscarriage, which is weird, but touchingly sad). Ultimately though, it is a movie about the importance of community and about being a good neighbor, the sort of message that should be in a family film. Also, I should note, the last shot of the film is bittersweet and wonderful.


On a scale of one to Casablanca, this film is a "The Secret of NIMH" (1982)


When it comes to family entertainment I think its very important to have films that enlighten children not only to the wonders of existence, but also to the more fearful and sad side of things. Its also equally important to create stories that are complicated and engaging enough to keep the attention of adults. I suppose what I'm getting at is that a lot of family entertainments merely anesthetize everyone who watches them. It's good to seek out some good intentioned films like "*Batteries Not Included." Yes, its no masterpiece, but who cares?

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