(Earlier today Liss and I were discussing Mac and Me (don't ask) and I told her her blog would be greatly improved (or damaged, whichever) by more material relating to the 1988 film. Truthfully, you can actually Netflix this one, but I wouldn't recommend it, as its reputation as one of the worst films ever made is well deserved. Enjoy!)
It doesn't surprise me someone ripped off E.T. What is surprising however is that someone did it more than five years later. What resulted was not a cute, little homage to the original, but instead is one of the more crass and vulgar films out there: A ninety-five minute spectacle of commercialism disguised as family entertainment. This is a film where Coca Cola saves the day and McDonalds is really the happiest place on Earth.
There is rarely a scene that doesn't have some sort of obtrusive product placement. Whether it's Otter Pops or Skittles, the film is constantly shilling, and this becomes not so much a movie as an hour and a half long commercial.
The plot, such as it is, really is little more than a cheap knockoff of E.T. with only a few minor points changed here and there. A family of aliens gets stranded on Earth, and the youngest, nicknamed Mac, gets separated from his brood. While attempting to reunite with them, and avoid capture by government agents, he takes up with a suburban family.
There is a slight variation in that instead of a bicycle Eric (Jade Calegory), the kid the alien hooks up with, has a wheelchair. Otherwise things are pretty dead on with E.T. Even the music rips off John Williams' original score. The only significant difference is that perhaps they made the aliens even uglier than E.T., if that is at all possible.
Mac lives entirely on Coca Cola, by the way. I guess they don't have cavities or diabetes where he comes from. Actually, everyone in the film seems to live on Coca Cola. Anyway, when the Feds finally figure out where Mac is hiding things get really exciting. And by exciting, I mean "optimized for maximum product exposure."
In order to outwit the Feds Eric disguises Mac as an animatronic teddy bear and heads to McDonalds. There is quite a party going on, as it is someone's birthday, no one in the cast, mind you, but someone is having a party. Ronald McDonald is there (played by himself, according to the end credits), as are a bunch of dancing gay football players (fuck if I know). And let me tell you, you ain't lived until you've seen a dance number set in a fast food joint.
The Feds descend upon McDonalds, carrying a large cage, but Eric and Mac slip out the side door. Then the chase is on with the kid and the alien being pursued by government agents, just like in E.T., but this time they're in a wheelchair instead of on a bike. Eric seeks refuge in Sears, because that is where Mom (Christine Ebersole) works. There are plenty of crazy antics among the Tuffskins™ and Craftsman™ tools, as Eric deftly outmaneuvers his pursuers.
Eric and Mac then ditch the Feds by jumping into the family minivan. Eric, his brother (Jonathan Ward), his brother's girlfriend (who spends the entire film in her McDonalds uniform, by the way), the cute (i.e. annoying) neighbor child, and the alien head off into the desert searching for Mac's family. It turns out they're hiding in a mine shaft behind a billboard for Wickes Furniture Stores.
The aliens are near death, as the time in the desert has left them at the brink of dehydration. Part of the problem is, on their home planet, which I think is a moon of Saturn, the aliens drink by sticking straws in the sand and sucking out water. Unfortunately, in the California desert, if you stick your straw in the sand and suck all you get is sand. But Eric has brought along enough Coca Cola to revive them. A six pack of soda later and they've all made a full recovery.
Do the aliens then make it back home? Hell no. The film ends with them being sworn in as U.S. citizens, all thanks to Coca Cola, McDonalds, and the other fine products prominently displayed in the course of the film.
Hooray for American consumerism!