You don't always know when something is going to come around and truly charm you, especially during a big holiday movie weekend. "Earth To Echo" is an under the radar children's adventure that captures some of the magic of the films from the 1980's in the same genre while giving it a fresh 21st century edge as these young teens have to grapple with some pretty grown up problems.
After a construction project begins digging in their neighborhood, best friends Tuck, Munch and Alex (Brian 'Astro' Bradley, Reese Hartwig and Teo Halm) inexplicably begin to receive strange, encoded messages on their cell phones. Convinced something bigger is going on, they go to their parents and the authorities however when everyone around them refuses to take the messages seriously, the three embark on a secret adventure to crack the code and follow it to its source. Even though it seemed like a good idea, taking matters into their own hands gets the trio in way over their heads when they discover a mysterious being from another world who desperately needs their help to get home as they embark on an adventure that they never even dreamed of.
While the basic formula of "Earth To Echo" has been done before, this low budget charm that was actually shot by Disney and subsequently sold off is a charming and fun little adventure romp as the found footage motif and storytelling tool actually works better for a bunch of 13 year old kids then you'd actually expect.
Director Dave Green and writer Henry Gayden borrow pretty liberally from the films of their youth like "The Goonies" and "Batteries Not Included" but never in a ham handed or tacky way. The found footage tool actually works this time out and where it has gotten so annoying in most horror films, it is pretty darn charming and endearing this time out. The narrative treats the kids with respect as they deal with the problem of their town essentially dying and this essentially being the last days that they have to spend together. It's a movie that should play well for kids AND anyone who used to be a kid as well because the kids are intelligent...but they are still kids and none of the ensemble tries to play it any older then there actual years.
Filled with mostly relative unknowns, this story wouldn't have worked nearly as well if some famous child actors had taken the roles. They all had great chemistry together and sold us as an audience on the adventure that they were about to undertake, and really that is all we really need.
While it may not be one of the more attractive options out there, don't overlook "Earth To Echo" as it is a fun and entertaining adventure not only for kids, but for the kids inside us all.
4 out of 5 stars.
"Earth To Echo" is now playing in theatres all across the country, please check with local listings for show times.