“E.T. is sad. He wants to go home,” is the salient message my 5-year-old has so far taken away from one of the most influential films of my ‘80s childhood.
My husband TiVo-ed the movie, and he and Grace are watching it in small, parentally-monitored increments. I’m cool with this, but still a little nervous about the some of the content.
We already censored the part where Elliot calls his big brother “Penis Breath,” but we have yet to arrive at the point where E.T. dies and is resurrected. I’m certain that Grace will jump on board the same emotional roller coaster that I rode when exposed to those heartbreaking scenes.
I was a sobbing 8-year-old wreck, barely able to finish my Reese’s Pieces due to the large amounts of snot cascading out of my nose.
I realize as an adult that E.T. is truly a kids’ movie, brilliantly portrayed through the eyes of children. Remember the scary NASA adults in spacesuits and the awesome flying bicycles? As children, we all understood E.T.’s urgent desire to get home and Elliot’s intense love for his glow-fingered friend. But I noticed a few things as an adult that I missed as a kid:
All of the pop-culture references. Asteroids scores, Yoda, teenagers talking in Dracula voices. (And Drew Barrymore is now a pop-culture reference in her own right.)
I also now understand why the kids wear hats, sunglasses, and hoodies in the big scene where they rescue E.T. from the scientists and then fly away on their dirt bikes into the woods. Those bikes are driven by very large stuntmen. You can practically see the sideburns and mustaches.
The grown-ups in the film aren’t the bad guys I remember them to be. They’re all just trying to do the right thing, to learn who or what this alien guy might be, and to protect us earthlings from any potential harm.
I’m curious to see how my daughter reflects a new generation’s handling of this landmark film of my childhood. And I think I’ll probably be crying along with her.