Review – Batteries Not Included (1987)
“I Think We Got Elves”
Here’s another 80s classic I can’t believe I let slipped through the net. This is an absolutely charming film directed by Matthew Robbins, with Steven Spielberg as executive producer. Apparently the story was meant for his television series Amazing Stories, but he liked it so much he decided to adapt it into a movie.
The story is very simple. An elderly couple who manage an apartment building and café in New York’s East Village, are being forced to move out by ruthless property developers. The feisty old couple obviously resist and fight back, but are met with violent opposition from the developers, who send in a local gang to smash the place up. This is when the fun starts as a couple of small living spaceships arrive in the building, and begin fixing things that have been broken or destroyed. The residents call them the “Fix Its” and obviously deem this some kind of miracle.
Without giving too much away, for those who haven’t seen it, the second half of the film is given up to the residents basically sticking it to the villains, with the help of the little spaceships, and it all winds up with a very satisfying conclusion. I found it reminiscent of another 80s classic, Cocoon. Remember that one ??? Well this had a very similar vibe to it. I loved Cocoon and that’s why I think I liked this one so much.
As for the cast, the only actor I actually knew of was Jessica Tandy, who I remember from that lovely film Driving Miss Daisy, which also starred the brilliant Morgan Freeman. The rest of the cast were 80s movie regulars, I knew them all by face but couldn’t put names to them. Even so, everyone concerned seemed to be having a high old time and did a great job.
Having now watched four of the 80s best known family films, for the first time, The Goonies, Short Circuit, Flight of the Navigator and of course this one, i’m beginning to see why these movies have endured the way they have, since they were first released in the mid to late 80s. I’ll be reviewing each of them individually in time, but as a collective I have to say these movies are all extremely well made, and the thing I notice mostly about them is they don’t talk down to their target audience. They all have a real grown up streak, running right down the middle of them, especially The Goonies, which i’m sure the younger members of the audience loved.
To sum up, if you haven’t seen Batteries Not Included before, I would highly recommend it as a great way to pass a couple of hours. Great family entertainment, and the kind of magical film you just don’t seem to see very often nowadays.