Boy meets alien. An enduring family classic.
Rated PG for language and mild thematic elements. Minor language from the mouths of children (including “s—t,” “damn,” “son of a bitch,” “penis breath”). Nothing worse than your kids might overhear at the mall. The government takeover of the house is pretty scary. The kids face sickness, death, and tearful goodbyes.
Even better than you remember
What makes E.T. so rewatchable for a parent, 30 years later, is Spielberg’s mystifying gift for layering stellar pop entertainment over the top of arresting depth. You might sniff out a meditation on the importance of social bravery, an elaborate fantasy constructed in the name of coping with the hurt of a broken home, or just an overblown metaphor for finding and returning a stray dog, but the kids are bound to be riveted by E.T.’s taste for Reese’s Pieces and cheap beer, willingness to roll with Gertie’s dress-up games, and deft talent for flying bikes across the moon. The film is not without heavy elements that most certainly will not be lost on the kids—in particular, the culmination of a sinister presence in an invasion of Elliott’s home is shot (to Spielberg’s credit) in a truly terrifying manner, and our heroes experience a descent into grave illness that is both frightening and sad. But aside from that E.T. is a perfectly enthralling adventure for a child, through the eyes of a child. —