Earth To Echo

 

Earth To Echo is the most derivative film I’ve seen in years. It has elements from The Goonies, E.T., Short Circuit, Stand By Me, Poltergeist, Blair Witch Project, The Matrix and District 9, among others. Those elements are crafted together in a film that can only be considered original if you’re a 10-year-old kid who hasn’t seen those aforementioned films.

This PG-rated family feature is perfect for the preteen and early teen crowd. Three boys are due to move from their homes in a Nevada subdivision to make way for a highway. On their last night together, they each tell their parents that they’ll be playing video games at another kid’s house and spending the night. Instead, the trio rides their bikes into the desert to see what’s up with these weird disturbances on their cell phones.

The three boys are Munch (Reese Hartwig), the cautious kid; Tuck (Brian “Astro” Bradley, resembling a full size Gary Coleman), who archives everything on video; and Alex (Teo Halm), the good-looking foster child. Halfway through their adventure, they are joined by Emma (Ella Wahlestedt) to get some girl power in the film.

Along the way they encounter the alien they name Echo who, like E.T., wants to go home. They take Echo under their wing and dash through an overnight adventure that eventually solves the mystery.

While E2E draws from other films, it has a contemporary look with much hand-held POV footage and the constant presence of smartphones. Directing a feature for the first time, Dave Green maintains a good tempo. The script by Henry Gayden manages to squeeze a good deal of plot—and character—into a 90-minute film.

Earth To Echo is a decent amusement for young kids. And for parents, it might be fun to see if you can come up with more movies—other than those listed up top—that the filmmakers have “borrowed” from to make E2E.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Kings of Summer

The Kings of Summer is a good movie with one problem: Its R rating. I know younger teens who would love this movie, but who cannot legally see it.

And the R rating is totally unnecessary. Yes, some of Nick Offerman’s profane comments are hilarious. And, yes, unsupervised 15-year-old kids may be likely to drink beer. But The Kings of Summer, a light comedy, should’ve been tailored to be PG-13.

In TKOS, two 15-year-old buddies and their weird acquaintance run off into the woods and build a decent little shelter. They stay there for several weeks, enjoying their solitude but, particularly, the absence of their parents. Joe (Nick Robinson), Patrick (Chesterfield’s own Gabriel Basso) and Biaggio (Moises Arias) have a good thing going—until they invite some of their friends over.

Every person, around age 14 or 15, begins to resent/shun/despise his or her parents. I did it. My brother did it. Each of my three kids did it. You probably did it, even if you can’t remember. In most cases, it’s not personal, it’s just part of growing up. In the cases of Joe and Patrick though, maybe it is personal.

Offerman (of TV’s Parks and Recreation) is Joe’s widowed dad, a sad and bitter man, with a disarming smugness about him. Patrick’s sincere, but overbearing, parents are played by Megan Mullally and Marc Evan Jackson. Biaggio’s parents are not seen, although his dad is heard in a brief, but funny, sequence near the film’s end.

The three Kings are talented young actors who each have big futures ahead. Robinson and Basso are nice looking young men. Arias has an Eastern European ethnic look and great facial takes that could lead to successful broad comedy roles.

The Kings of Summer calls to mind several films about young people dealing with adolescence, including Moonrise Kingdom, Stand By Me and Breaking Away. All of us who grew up near the woods and fantasized about building a tree house or cabin getaway with dad’s tools and scrap lumber from nearby construction sites can appreciate what these three characters actually pull off here.

Too bad TKOS is rated R and most teens can’t see it without their own smug, doting parents in tow. Maybe they could sneak in from somewhere else in the Cineplex? Maybe!