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*batteries not included More at IMDbPro »

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0 out of 3 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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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Very tidy little family piece.

Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
14 April 2008

Residents of a building under threat of demolition from developers get an answer to their prayers in the form of tiny mechanical aliens.

Firmly embedded in the trench that houses a number of 80s fantastical alienish pictures, *batteries not included is a bit worn around the edges yet still keeps its head above average waters thanks to its unbreakable charm. There is something so joyous about watching bullies {here in the form of vile developers and their hoodlum enforcers} getting a dose of their own medicine, and although the outcome here is never in doubt, it's still an amiable enough ride that manages to lift the spirit and close the picture out with a big cheesy grin. Boasting the solid Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy in the leads, we are in very safe hands, and it may well say Matthew Robbins name on the directors chair, we are in no doubt that producer Stephen Spielberg has his stamp all over this one.

Safe family viewing, 6/10

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1 out of 5 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 5 people found the following review useful:

Lazy Sunday Movie

Author: Falcon-51 from South Carolina
29 March 2000

Kids may enjoy "*batteries not included" for the tiny spaceships and some of the funny antics they get themselves into. These same kids however may not be able to identify with the adult characters in the film. In similar movies like "E.T." kids enjoy seeing other children directly involved with the story. An example is the famous bicycle escape scene. Adults on the other hand will no doubt find this film overly sentimental.

The story is about a group of tenants that are being forced out of their apartments by some pushy developers using dirty tactics such as gang-for-hire to get the job done. When some tiny spaceships visit the apartment to re-charge their power supplies they end up staying awhile and eventually help the tenants out. Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy do a fine job in there performances but can't make this film anything more than a Lazy Sunday Movie.

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2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:


Author: Anna Marlene from Germany
11 April 2005

I have also seen the film and I was really disappointed of the aliens and of many other things. All in all the story was funny, but the producers could have done more with it. They could have made it also for adults. I was 15 years old when I have seen it and I was disappointed because the pictures and the summary in my TV magazine had promised more. It was too bad and I always hoped for more Action. It would have been better, if the aliens were looking like humans and not like flat things flying through the air. When they arrived, I expected some aliens looking like humans. The only person I really liked was old Faye Riley. She was funny and in a way she was nice.

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3 out of 9 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 4 people found the following review useful:

An old fashioned film....

Author: D. B. from Nebraska, United States
27 August 2006

For those looking for a "classic" type of family film, but with color film and a bit more in the way of special effects, this is perfect for the job.

The distinct old fashioned streak is both the strength and weakness of this film. The plot is predictable and is not otherwise outstanding, but the simplicity suits it well to small children. There are fewer jokes than in many of the recent Disney blockbusters, but one is also spared the smothering glibness that accompanies this sort of humor.

While the average family film nowadays takes the tone of a particularly sarcastic twelve-year-old in hopes of appealing to everyone, "Batteries Not Included" aims particularly at two groups; small children, and theater (that is stage) aficionados. Both groups have plot elements and characters focused specifically on them, and whether one likes the film depends mostly on whether one can appreciate the elements aimed for either adults or children, and tolerate or ignore the rest.

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1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Movie: C+ DVD: B

Author: Paul B. Musser from Loudonville, NY
13 February 2000

* batteries not included C+/B 2.11.00 1.85:1/5.1 First Viewing Anamorphic Widescreen

It's a cross between Cocoon and E.T. but doesn't live up to either. The story is too cute at times, yet no where does a single young child appear in the film. The DVD looks and sounds fine, but the only extras are production notes.

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1 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Not much to smile about

Author: gcd70 from Melbourne, Australia
5 November 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Director Matthew Robbins and the Spielberg production company (Amblin Entertainment) present us with a movie that has been influenced greatly by the success of Ron Howard's "Cocoon". We have here two stars form that film (Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy), a very similar plot idea and almost the same music (same composer).

The story, about tiny alien spacecraft who help save an old block of flats from being destroyed, comes across as silly, and the script is thin and poorly worked. Weak characterisation and blatant predictability don't help either, not to mention the lack of comedy. Not much to smile about.

Monday, March 1, 1993 - T.V.

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1 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Yeah mine too. I think we got elves.

Author: lastliberal from United States
15 July 2007

I am a diabetic and this was just too much sweetness for my system.

I know there are some that consider Miss Daisey (Jessica Tandy) and Hume Cronyn to be some kind of national treasures, but they were just a couple of old people who get all gaga over some mechanical beings from outer space. It was really difficult to watch them.

I have to admit that Elizabeth Peña and Dennis Boutsikaris were the best part of this movie, even if he did remind me a bit of an actor I hate. I know that's not his fault, but it detracted from my enjoyment of his performance.

All-in-all this belongs on the Disney Channel so it can be avoided by those who can't take too much sugar.

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