*batteries not included (1987) Poster

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jimbo70012 May 2006
*batteries not included is a very underrated movie, especially among reviewers on the IMDb. The pros, such as Roger Ebert seem to give it some respect (along with 3 thumbs up). There was nothing sugar coated about the performances of the 5 main characters in *batteries not included. Jessica Tandy gives one of the best performances of her career as Faye Riley who appears to be in the early-to-mid stages of Alzheimer's disease. Hume Cronyn is Faye's husband Frank, owner of a small diner with no customers. Elizabeth Peña is Marisa Esteval, a single soon-to-be mother who clings to her statue of the Virgin Mary for what little hope she has. Dennis Boutsikaris is the cynical artist/painter Mason Baylor, who has a heart as big as his artistic talent, yet no one other than Marisa seems to acknowledge his talent. Finally there's Frank McRae as the former boxer extraordinaire Harry Noble, now living in the basement of the building that houses each character and the Riley's diner. Oh... Harry watches way too much TV... especially the commercials. His only lines (which were few) in this movie were lines from commercials. This movie represents a cross section of people who are on the verge of losing their homes to a real estate developer, who will stop at nothing to get them out of their building. After throwing large sums of money at them (to no avail), the developer hires Carlos (Michael Carmine) to run them out using whatever means are necessary, including force. The characters are developed to the point that you actually care for all 5 of them. Just when it looks hopeless for our friends, small spaceships, compliments of Industrial Light and Magic show up and start fixing everything. And flipping burgers in Riley's Dinner. They also wash dishes, repair broken Virgin Mary statues and stopwatches and they replicate using spare pots and pans and electrical appliances, fused together by at least 1.21 gigawatt's of electricity. Although the aliens are portrayed as mechanical beings with heart, they certainly give hope to the residents, and help bind them together. The visual effects are a treat... especially for those of us who have tired of CGI effects that look more like a cartoon than reality. There's something about filming a real model, built by human hands against a blue screen, then matting it into the film that makes it look more realistic than computer animated visuals. Many have written that this movie tries to suck the viewer in, using emotional techniques, as opposed to making it an intellectual masterpiece. I believe it takes more talent to get the audience to emotionally invest themselves in a movie than to create eye candy. Thanks to great acting, a decent-enough script, good cinematography and an equally emotional score from James Horner, this picture works in every way... even 20 years later. If you haven't seen this movie in 20 years, go ahead and give it a spin. It's as good today as it was in 1987! Prices may vary in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico...
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Dockelektro22 November 2001
This movie sticks out of my memory from my childhood, because I remember it as a heart-warming tale, touching and tender. Today, I still like it, it continues to be a sweet story about ordinary people who find the extraordinary. Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn are very good, and make the acting juice of this movie. Liked it, and am still able to see it anytime!
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Excellent, light hearted science fiction
john_braham4 June 2003
This film does, as suggested, bear semlence to Cocoon, however it contains a far richer storyline and a generally superior level of acting. This film while not specifically being a comedy tells a relativly amusing story of a group of residents of an old building, targeted for demolition, visited by alien 'devices' (the nature of which remain undisclosed throughout), who help them by fixing everything in their path in exchange for some power and spare parts. As for the level of comedy, well it depends on your sense of humour, I certainly found the funny bits, well, funny, and not in the usual 'in your face' american comedy style.
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steviecrowther3 October 2004
A true classic. This was the first film I ever saw, and it has stayed my favorite for almost 17 years! Obviously, some may hate it, and some may love it, but its one of those films you have to judge for yourself. OK, so, perhaps the storyline is a bit thin, predictable and slightly unbelievable, but, what film isn't? There are more good points than bad (I'm not giving the good ones away, you'll have to see them for yourselves!) It could do with a bit of updating, maybe a newer version could cover up plot holes and dodgy script, but then it would lose all its charm. And Batteries Not Included definitely has charm, bucket-loads!

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!
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This movie is for the whole family to enjoy
chvylvr8019 March 2003
I like this movie a lot. Without getting too corny, I would even go out on a limb and say that it's a bit magical. It's a feel good movie that doesn't get too sentimental or campy. The cast does a average job with their average roles. Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn do a good job as the feisty tenants that wouldn't move out. The DVD release of this movie really doesn't have any extras so if you can score it cheap on video then I suggest you do so. That's what I did anyway. Spielberg proves once again that he is the master of the family movie. Interesting and heartwarming for the adults, special effects and fun for the kids. Bottom Line: This movie isn't really looked upon as a classic or anything but it's good to have on the shelf to watch every once and awhile.
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A charming little movie
laguy31018 July 2001
While I realize that this movie has been blasted as being one of Spielberg's low points, it does have it's strongpoints.

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.
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Good, escapist fun
Lee B13 October 1999
This is a fun movie if you're not looking for heavy philosophy and just want some bubblegum for the eyes. Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy are brilliant - he as the husband who's watching his wife's mind deteriorate, she as the "living in the past" wife. My favourite part is when Carlos walks into the hut on top of the building. The expression on his face when he comes out is priceless.
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This isn't a Spielberg movie. It's a live-action Pixar movie!
Nathan Strong11 July 2007
I must admit, I was a kid when this movie came out, but I never saw it as a kid. I watched it for the first time today--with 20 intervening years since the film came out. And I think that perspective shines a new light into this old chestnut.

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!
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Cute, sweet, funny and warm
Igraine9914 June 2002
Okay, *batteries not included is not a great film. It's not meant to be! The makers of this movie were obviously not trying to win any awards, but make a sweet movie for all ages about love, acceptance, friendship and family.

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.
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A critical failure that only proves that professional reviewers don't always have the public's best interest in heart.
mark.waltz17 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of those sweet movies (with a touch of city toughness) that remains as charming today as it did 25 years ago. Called a rip-off of "Close Encounters", "E.T." and "Cocoon" (did anybody dare call "E.T." a rip-off of "Close Encounters"?, which it lightly emulated), "Batteries Not Included" is a family film with an adult touch that is gripping, intense, charmingly corny and a tribute to the love between old people that time cannot tear apart.

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.
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when you are desperate you always wish for..
Prabhakaran So6 June 2002
There is always hope when people are in desperate need of help. Either it may come from the heaven or may not be. But the film is not just with the hope. Its beauty is with characters it has. The mad woman and her husband, the pregnant girl left by the boyfriend, the artist left by the girl friend and a rowdy who is an orphan and longing for somebody who can say "bobbie my little boy". I like it very much. I loved the movie when I was a school going boy ten years ago. I like it the same way now too.
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Good over evil.. and you don't need batteries. *gryn*
J Kelley (thom_kitty)11 July 2006
Good vs Evil. That's where we have here. Big corporation expanding and growing but there's an obstacle in the way. An old building that houses a few people is still standing with a restaurant. The group has their own problems, but they are trying to survive. Thugs try their best to bring them down. Almost succeeding. Then one night, the two visitors appear needing a spot to recharge and found out they liked it. So they stayed awhile.

*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.
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A delightful, nostalgic trip..
dasdrifter17 August 2003
Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn stole the show, as is expected. However, the film is a very fun and nostalgic trip, the remaining cast getting the job done well. While it could use some development, the ideas present and the general whim about the film allow it to stand amongst other contemporary classics.

Naturally, the film also sports great production values, with Spielberg, Kennedy, and Marshall at it once again. Go see it.
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Appreciated from a Human Level
Bill Widman25 February 2007
If I had to describe this movie in one word, it would be "sweet." You have to be human to appreciate such sentiment, but I imagine some non-human beings may enjoy it also. What I mean to say is that this story deals with human emotion. Although this is a fantasy, the emotions it deals with are very real.

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.
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Wholly underrated film...
No One10 July 2006
Warning: 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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LivingDog29 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


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This movie does have charm!
jijotomyp27 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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A Nice Clear Cut Enjoyable Movie (Possible Spoilers)
mwendel20 December 2003
Warning: 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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Heartwarming & Sad
Cylex12 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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A film I searched for years...
everanju13 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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tt_webmaster29 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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Familiar story. But at least the aliens are original
DAVID SIM1 May 2007
Warning: 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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Smart But Bittersweet
Elswet29 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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"This is the '80s, Mason, nobody likes reality anymore!"
moonspinner5520 March 2017
Fairly dreadful 'old-fashioned' fantasy, representing the tail-end of both the cute old folks-cycle and the cute alien beings-cycle, has an ethnically-diverse group of residents in a New York City tenement that's been marked for destruction gaining help from two intergalactic beings--his and hers miniature flying saucers. Opening with a blast of jazz music and a montage of 'vintage' photographs (both fraudulent), this noisy, cluttered film, executive produced by Steven Spielberg, is an overachiever. Lost somewhere between "Cocoon" and "E.T.", it never finds an appropriate tone--although its aim is to be weepy-eyed whimsy, with both wet eyes firmly on the box office. *1/2 from ****
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good family fare
SnoopyStyle12 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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