1982 was a good year for movies. Tootsie, Annie, An Officer and a Gentleman, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. (That last one is the reason I have an irrational fear of things crawling into my ears.)
I loved this movie as a kid, and until I started working on this post, I didn’t realize that my own children haven’t gotten to see this yet. A travesty I will have to rectify soon. Every kid should have the opportunity to watch this film. It’s one of those moments that should be a part of every childhood, like getting ice cream from the neighborhood truck or catching fireflies on a summer night.
E.T. was the highest-grossing movie of its time, a record it held until Jurassic Park (also directed by Steven Spielberg) came out. Even if adjusted for inflation today, it would be the 4th highest-grossing movie of all time. It was intense and emotional, taking a subject that was normally treated as either scary (The Day the Earth Stood Still, Alien) or campy (The Blob, Plan 9 from Outer Space) and making it enjoyable for children without being condescending or silly.
It’s also amazing how beloved the actual E.T. character has become, considering he’s not cuddly or cute. He’s not even an attractive color. But he does have an adorable little waddle and a magical finger with the power to heal. And who can forget his catchphrases? “Ell-i-otttt” “E.T. Phooone Hooome”
I think this weekend I’ll rent this for the kids. I can’t wait to see their expressions when E.T. is revealed for the first time, or hear their giggles when he’s hiding among Gertie’s stuffed animals, or squeeze their hands while they watch anxiously to see if he and Elliot will die, and pass the tissues when it’s time to say goodbye. There are so few movies made nowadays that are appropriate for both children and adults, and that can make you feel such a range of emotions in one sitting. That’s why E.T. will always be a classic.