Children: Alien Specialty   Leave a comment

Devil's Tower

Credit:  Andrew Chattaway – Moon over Devil’s Tower

 

With kids and cute aliens helping out each other again this summer, I’d thought I’d focus on a few past endeavors by Hollywood that exploits children for the greater good of the alien’s quest to rule the planet, or at least have some practical use for it.  Generally, all the aliens wind up doing is using the kids (or their friends/family) to stick it to the man, break laws, wreak havoc and make a positive, heartwarming impression on the kid(s) that will guide them through the rest of their lives.

Quick!  Name five films wherein aliens and kids meet up, bond and learn important life lessons that will guide them through their formative year and beyond.  Name two wherein Devil’s Tower figures prominently.

Drawing a blank?  Here’s mine:

1) E.T. – An obvious choice, eh?  Such a story: a lonely kid from a broken marriage meets up with an ugly-but-cute alien who is also a fugitive from those nasty government people.  After a few tentative missteps, alien and kid learn a few things off of each other and discover that being different has its assets.  Older brother totally embraces the outlaw aspect of harboring said fugitive, gets friends on board to skirt the law after a scary brush with it, then everyone goes on a quasi-high speed dodge-’em bike chase to lose the cops and send E.T. back to the planets.  It’s a heartwarming tale meant to leave the viewer with a warm, glowing feeling…just like the pulsating chest of E.T.  Kids also learn the value of sticking it to The Man by learning that all government officials are evil, hostile sorts who have absolutely no business wondering just exactly what kind of being from another planet goes after young innocents and teaches them how to get away with breaking nation security protocols.

2) Close Encounters of the Third Kind – Kid actually gets abducted by stereotypical, pale verdigris aliens and winds up in a ginormous ship from which mobs of abductees are eventually unloaded back to the planet where they were first plucked.  It’s assumed they’ve been probed, charted, analyzed and documented for future use.  Cherub child, abducted in early scenes of film, runs towards Mommy (who’s been skirting the law herself trying to get the kid back) once he’s set free.  In the film, it’s mentioned that some have an unusual force beckoning them towards the expected alien landing site.  Apparently, they were invited to attend, and the calling card is an unshakable mental image of a strange-shaped mountain located somewhere in the American West.  Well, the kid was dragged through a doggie door.  I get the distinct impression it wasn’t his idea to come to the party or he even had the faintest idea of what Devil’s Tower even was, where it stood or why he, of all kids, was selected for this particular space venture.  Apart from being scarred for life with post-traumatic stress disorder from his abduction, we know that child is going to be just…fine…

3) The Day the Earth Stood Still – Little Bobby Benson’s Dad died in World War II, and Klaatu/Mr. Carpenter’s just the guy who’ll show him not only how to improve his math skills, but nuclear bombs are a bad idea because if anyone on Earth’s ever going to use them, Klaatu’s going to teach all those naughty, nasty Earthlings a big lesson they’ll never forget.  The government’s going after Klaatu, so he uses Bobby’s mom Helen as his ticket to freedom and get back to Gort and that big ship sitting on the President’s Park ellipse.  Kids learn that while they might be able to skirt the law together with their new-found alien friend, their parents might.

4)  Mars Attacks! – Now, these are teenagers that wind up being victorious in the end.  What’s cool about this one is Natalie Portman, as the president’s daughter Taffy Dale, winds up giving Lukas Haas, another teenager, the Medal of Honor, all because Slim Whitman yodeling makes the Martians heads explode.  There really is no law to skirt here, but if nothing else, the cheese factor’s on overload, with Tom Jones providing plenty of it for the film.  Natalie Portman would go on to play Padmé Amidala in the “first three episodes” of Star Wars films.

5) Paul – This one’s a bit of a stretch, but Paul landed on Tara Walton’s dog, who was stigmatized her entire life and called a freak because she met a real alien and no one believed her.  A child at the time, she suffered insults from other kids thinking she was a reclusive nut case, which she did become.  In the end, we find out that she isn’t really skirting the law, only trying to have a wonderful adventure to make up for the rotten hand that Paul dealt her by helping him escape the G-men out to nab Paul for the Big Guy.  One can only imagine the misadventures that lie ahead for both she and her old friend, Paul.  And yes, they go to Devil’s tower, where everyone know aliens go for a good time.

So. What’s your favorite child & alien film?

 

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