Release date: July 2, 2014
Directed by: Dave Green
Written by: Henry Gayden
What do you get when you combine "Goonies", "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial", and "Super 8" but leave out the heart, brains, and imagination. Sadly, you get "Earth to Echo", a nonsensical kiddie flick that proves once and for all that literally anyone can make a movie.
Like "Goonies", "Earth to Echo" is about a group of friends who find themselves on the verge of being separated so they set out on one last adventure together. In this case, when everyone's cell phones go on the fritz, or "puke" as the kids so hilariously call it, the boys set out to discover the source of the disruption, using MapQuest like graphics that pop up every so helpfully to let the audience know when they get to their destinations. But unlike the beloved Spielberg classic, none of these characters have any real charm or chemistry.
And like "E.T.", the boys stumble on cute little alien life form that has gotten lost and now just wants to get home. In this case, the cute little alien is Echo who communicates through with his new found Earth buddies through beeps; one for yes, two for no. Other than that, Echo doesn't really do much. So, unlike that other Spielberg classic, Echo is never given enough to do that there ever feels like a real bond between the little lost alien and these sad, lonely dorks.
Finally, like "Super 8", the alien just wants to rebuild his ship and is being hunted by the U.S. government, simply because they were the ones who shot him down and now they want to pick poor Echo to pieces to see what makes him tick. Oh, and the boys are filming everything on their phones so there is always a camera on the action when there needs to be one, even if it never makes sense. But alas, unlike the J.J. Abrams homage to the Spielberg classics of the 80's, it just feels like a cheap imitation.
There are references to other movies, some more subtle than others. The movie never feels fresh or original. Even some of the music sounds as if it's been ripped right out of other movies, trailers, etc. The kids are doing the best with the material, but it's not their fault the adults on the set failed to come up with something new to add to what feels like a giant rip-off from the opening scenes. From the opening scene to the last, the movie is in a rush to get there, never taking time to allow any real depth emotion to set in.
The target audience here is the little kids. The ones who don't know better, or just haven't been exposed yet to the far superior films. It's aimed at the Disney generation who has grown up watching junk like "iCarly" and "Good Luck Charlie". The "hey look at me, my computer has a camera so I can be an internet star now" generation. It's frightening evidence that just about anyone can make a movie, assuming there are no guidelines for quality.
Little kids may be tricked into thinking Echo is funny and entertaining -- at least the ones who don't know what a Goonie or an E.T. is yet. But the movie lacks personality, heart, and intelligence. But even though this is rated PG, parental guidance is highly suggested. There are much, much better films out there, including the three that "Earth to Echo" is so desperate to copy.
Rating: PG for some action and peril, and mild language
Running time: 84 minutes