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Explorers (1985)

3:07 | Clip
A boy obsessed with 50s sci-fi movies about aliens has a recurring dream about a blueprint of some kind, which he draws for his inventor friend. With the help of a third kid, they follow it and build themselves a spaceship. Now what?


Joe Dante


Eric Luke
4,166 ( 481)
1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ethan Hawke ... Ben Crandall
River Phoenix ... Wolfgang Müller
Jason Presson ... Darren Woods
Bradley Gregg ... Steve Jackson's Gang
Georg Olden Georg Olden ... Steve Jackson's Gang
Chance Schwass Chance Schwass ... Steve Jackson's Gang
Amanda Peterson ... Lori Swenson
Danny Nucci ... Nasty Kid at School
Dana Ivey ... Mrs. Müller
Taliesin Jaffe ... Ludwig Müller
James Cromwell ... Mr. Müller
Brooke Bundy ... Science Teacher
Tricia Bartholome Tricia Bartholome ... Girl in Classroom
Eric Luke ... Darren's Teacher
Robert Picardo ... Starkiller / Wak / Wak and Neek's Father


This space adventure stars Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix as misfit best friends whose dreams of space travel become a reality when they create an interplanetary spacecraft in their homemade laboratory. Ben Crandall is a young visionary who dreams of space travel while watching late-night B monster movies, pouring over comic books, and playing Galaga in the confines of his bedroom. But one night he has a vivid dream of flying over a space-like circuit board and shares his visions with his best friend Wolfgang Muller, a young scientific genius who is able to translate his dreams into a complex computer program that actually works. With the help of their new friend Darren Woods, they create a homemade spacecraft and embark on a secret adventure to another galaxy where they find that things are not always as different as they seem. Written by Anthony Pereyra {hypersonic91@yahoo.com}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Someone out there is calling us... See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some mild language and action, and a brief scene involving beer | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | German

Release Date:

12 July 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Explorers See more »


Box Office


$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,607,340, 14 July 1985

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby (35 mm prints)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Wak can be heard uttering a line of dialogue from The Maltese Falcon (1941) in response to Darren's question about the crystal gift given at the film's ending. The line is "The uhh... stuff that dreams are made of." See more »


When the boys are christening the "Thunder Road," Ethan Hawk's character tries unsuccessfully to break a beer bottle on it. Then after they each take a drink from the bottle he throws back over the space ship into the creek where you here an exploding sound and glass breaking. The sound of the beer bottle breaking is actually the sound of a light bulb be broken. A beer bottle would not make a popping sound like that because even if were under pressure from the carbonation of the beer it would have to be in a vacuum, which it isn't. Light bulbs implode rather than explode causing the popping sound due to the vacuum they are in. The beer bottle should have sounded more like a small window being broken. See more »


Mr. Müller: [to his son's "talking" rat] "Shut up, Heinlein!"
See more »

Alternate Versions

The home video and cable television versions are re-edited by director Joe Dante and are two-minutes shorter than the original theatrical release. One of the missing scenes from the home video release has Ben [E. Hawke] and Wolfgang [R. Phoenix] walking to school and discussing the strange dreams Ben has been having. Ben then shows Wolfgang the circuit diagram drawing that he dreamed the previous night. Wolfgang then offers to input the diagram into his Apple IIc computer. The two then start talking about the school bully Steve Jackson. It's here when we first hear Ben comments/mention, quote: "Steve Jackson has elephantitis of the ego!" This is the reason why Ben is later punched by Jackson in another scene. The music on the soundtrack album called "Sticks and Stones" is about two minutes and this is the music which accompanies the missing scene. See more »


Fast Getaway
Composed and Conducted by Jerry Goldsmith
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Delightful 80's teen movie
12 June 2007 | by duffy047See all my reviews

The idea of watching this movie came after seeing "Stand By Me" and learning more about River Phoenix' accomplishments.

Being born in the 80's myself and interested in the teen/adventure movies like "Stand By Me" and "The Goonies", I learned about "Explorers" which also featured the late River Phoenix. So last night I eventually got to watch "Explorers".

The movies introduces the three main characters very well; each having their own background with their own unique capabilities. Wolfgang Müller (River Phoenix) is the intelligent creator of complex things, Ben Crandall (Ethan Hawke) is the dreamer but his intelligence is not to be underestimated and Darren Woods (Jason Presson) is a normal, but a bit lonely, kid who happened to stumble into Ben's life and sees the opportunity to 'escape' from or rather to forget his problems at home for a while.

As the movie continues, the plot evolves very well. The switching between excitement and adventure leaves the watcher wanting for more. Up until 20 minutes or so before the end I thought the movie was 'perfect'.

The part following in which the aliens are introduced did not contribute much. I think this is mainly because the movie ended right after that part. If the writers had wrote a better ending, giving a meaning to the whole scene of meeting the aliens, then I think the movie would have lasted for about 10-15 more minutes.

But then again, the movie is about 3 teenagers having their dreams come true and not so much about meeting aliens.

For me it was the first time I saw Ethan Hawke play as young as that age (15). He was fairly easy to recognize and despite his age he did a very good performance. The same goes for Jason Presson and the late River Phoenix, who was barely recognizable. His character was something totally different than he would play in future films.

Also barely recognizable was Robert Picardo as Wak, Wak's Father and Starkiller. Knowing him mostly from his role in "Star Trek: Voyager" (bald) and (his voice) from "Totall Recall" I had difficulties actually recognizing him.

To conclude: "Explorers" is a delightful, heartwarming teen/adventure film about 3 teenagers having their dreams come true. All of the 3 main actors, and all supporting actors, did a superb job. I think this movie is highly underrated and that not many people know it exists.

I hope to see more films like this in the future. But nowadays, teen/adventure movies are either complete nonsense or Disney movies for children. Oh well, I think times just have changed... a lot.

My score is 7 out of 10 for great acting, a good story but a bit of a let down ending.

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