Poll: How old are your children? (select as many as apply)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Movie #7: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

"He's a man from outer space and we're taking him to his spaceship."

This film has the highest quality rating of all the films we're viewing this month. It appears on so many recommended family film lists for good reason. It's a classic that every child should experience - and every parent should experience again with his or her children. They don't make them like this anymore.


  • Rating: PG "for language and mild thematic elements"

  • Minimum Recommended Age: 6 (Common Sense Media: On for ages 7 and up, Movie Mom: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade)

  • Quality Rating: 97.3% (Parent Previews Overall Grade: A, Common Sense Media Stars: 5, Kaboose Star Rating: 5, Rotten Tomatoes rating: 8.9)

  • Number of Lists Recommend: 6

  • Sex/Violence/Profanity:

    Screen It!:

    Language includes the lines "What's all this shit?", "Nothin' but health shit", "Son of a bitch", "Do a test area, damn it", "Damn it!", "Oh, my God!" (4 times), "Oh, God!", "Oh, my God, he's talking now", "It wasn't that, penis breath!", "Douche bag" and the retort "No douche bag talk in my house", "They're only feet, you little twerp" 5 instances of "shut up", and 4 instances of "stupid"

  • Running Time: 121 minutes

  • What does it have to do with Halloween? Elliot takes E.T. out in costume on Halloween night before sneaking off to the forest so E.T. can phone home


An extra-terrestrial is accidentally left behind on Earth and is befriended by a young boy and his brother and sister.

Watch Out For

Common Sense Media:
Parents need to know that Steven Spielberg's classic has some scenes of mild peril that may be too intense for younger children. For example, E.T. looks like he has died in one scene. There is brief but strong language by today's standards for a PG movie (like"bitch" and "s--t"). E.T. contains one of the most memorable product placements ever, Reese's Pieces, as well as a scene in which Elliott feels slightly drunk, because E.T. has indulged in a beer. Families should also be aware of the fact that the movie was criticized for having a complete absence of non-white characters.

Movie Mom:
Parents should know that the movie has scenes of peril that may be too intense for younger children. An apparent death is also upsetting. There is brief very strong language for a PG movie. This film was justifiably criticized for its almost complete absence of non-white characters.

Perhaps the only flaw with "E.T." is its length. At two hours, it can drag for younger attention spans. There are a couple of mild profanities and some tense scenes that can be scary for little ones. For children that emotionally invest themselves in that adorable E.T., there are two sequences that are very sad to watch.

Plugged In:
This "kid empowerment flick" sends some subtle messages parents may wish to address. First, adults are antagonists not to be trusted (even Mom isn’t brought in on the E.T. secret until he’s too sick for the boys to handle on their own). Second, although Mary is a new single mom who obviously loves her three children, it’s clear that the inmates are running the asylum in that home. Kids rule. They’re smarter and more savvy than their elders. Elsewhere, Michael and his teenage friends gamble on a role-playing game. Dishonest or illegal behaviors are deemed acceptable when the ends justify the means (Elliott lies about being sick so he can skip school; the kids deceive Mom; Michael steals an ambulance and drives without a license, etc.). Very young viewers may be spooked by tense encounters early in the film (Elliott tracking a mysterious intruder in the dark) and frenzied chases near the end. They may also have a harder time handling E.T.’s sickness and apparent death.

Screen It!:
Certain scenes (often accompanied by suspenseful/ominous music) may be unsettling, suspenseful or scary to younger kids, but that depends on the viewer's age, level of maturity and tolerance for material. That includes moments that have spooky or mysterious elements or tones, chase scenes and, of course, when E.T. is dying and then dies (although he quickly comes back to life).

Profanity consists of at least 2 "s" words, while a handful of other expletives and colorful phrases are also used. In one scene, the alien discovers and consumes beer, becoming intoxicated just like the young boy who has a sympathetic/symbiotic relationship with the alien (but the boy doesn't physically drink any himself).

Various instances of imitative behavior are present, as is some minor violence where characters are bumped or tossed around, while some tense family moments include talk of the parents recently being separated and the father not being there.

As Mary bends over in the kitchen, one of Michael's friends licks a finger and points it out toward her clothed rear end

E.T. is scared by Elliot

Elliot is scared by E.T.

"It wasn't that, penis breath!"

Gertie is scared by E.T.

E.T. imitates Gertie

E.T. drinks a Coors...

...which makes Elliot drunk

Elliot kisses a girl amongst the chaos

"Oh, my God, he's talking now"

Elliot cuts his finger on a circular saw blade

Mary is frightened when Elliot doesn't come home

E.T. in a weakened state

E.T. begs Mary for help

The government arrives

Elliot reacts to E.T.'s apparent death

Gertie reacts to E.T.'s apparent death

Keys closes E.T.'s eyes

Elliot says good bye to E.T.

Greg starts the van to escape

Elliot sees the government agents waiting

Gertie says good bye to E.T.

Elliot says good bye to E.T.

Screencaps courtesy of newsie__nympho

Talk About It

Common Sense Media:
* Families can talk about the way that the adults and the kids in the movie see things differently and have a hard time understanding each other's perspective. Why do Elliott and his siblings understand E.T. in a way the adults in the movie can't?
* How does the movie portray parent-child relationships? Could Elliott have talked to his mother about E.T.?
* Compare E.T. to other movies featuring aliens. Why are aliens usually scary and dangerous rather than peaceful?

Movie Mom:
Families who see this movie should talk about the way that the adults and the kids see things differently, and have a hard time understanding each other’s perspective. One reason is that they don’t try to share their feelings with each other. Could Elliott have talked to his mother about E.T.?

Extraterrestrials, divorce, keeping secrets (especially from parents), government agents, scientists, biology lab.

Screen It:
# Whether life exists on other planets and if aliens have ever or will ever visit Earth.
# Taking in unknown animals into the house without telling one's parents.
# What the government men wanted with E.T.
# Death and dying, and how when other living things die, they don't come back to life like E.T. does.

Of Note


"E.T." airs throughout October on Cinemax


Making of E.T.


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