Picks and Pans Review: The Last Starfighter

updated 07/30/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/30/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Anyone who's had fantasies about the ultimate video game will appreciate this film. Lance (St. Elsewhere) Guest plays a recent high school grad who lives in a trailer park. When not doing chores for his mother, he plays a video game called Star-fighter. One night, with his girlfriend, Catherine Mary (The Days of Our Lives) Stewart, and little brother looking on, he scores a record number of points. Soon Guest is visited by a strange man in a space-age car and then kidnapped to another galaxy, where his skills behind the video stick are enlisted in the cause of an intergalactic war. It's a bit of Star Wars, some E.T. and a lot of Star Trek. It all fits, thanks to the tongue-in-cheek script by first-time writer Jonathan Betuel and the mostly light touch of director Nick Castle. Guest plays two roles, the starfighter and a robot double sent to keep his girlfriend company while he's off saving planets. The film's funniest scene comes when the robot tries to romance Stewart, imitating the saccharine endearments of another couple nearby. Chris Hebert, as the kid brother, is hilarious, doing a great take when he sees the robot screw his head off to clean his ear. And Stewart, as the girlfriend, adds freshness, not to mention beauty. Dan O'Herlihy plays a Wookie-like sidekick, and a lot of the other starfighters look like rejects from the Star Wars bar scene. The climactic fight between Guest and the bad guys is thrilling, all of it done with computer graphics, not models. The movie is warmhearted too. What other teenager comes by to pick up his girlfriend in his own spaceship? (PG)

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