Picks and Pans Review: Flight of the Navigator

updated 08/18/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/18/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

At the outset of this wonderful live-action Disney adventure, Joey (Clan of the Cave Bear) Cramer is abducted by a well-intentioned drone spacecraft from another planet so he can be studied. After being returned—eight years have passed by earth time, none by his reckoning—he finds out he's going to be held against his will by NASA. (The time confusion when he returns to earth sets up comic situations like those in Back to the Future.) He secretly reboards the spacecraft. But the drone, which looks like one of the menacing robots from War of the Worlds, has lost its star charts and can't get home without them. So it strikes a deal with Cramer, in whose brain a set of charts was stored in an experiment. If the drone drops him off at home, he'll let it "access" his brain. But the robot gets more than just navigational aid; it absorbs all the motley information in the brain of a normal 12-year-old who watches too much TV. Consequently, the robot never shuts up and talks like Pee-wee Herman, who does the robot's voiceover. (When they fly by San Francisco, the drone sings the Rice-A-Roni jingle.) Cramer gives a spirited performance as the title character. Director Randal (Grease) Kleiser uses a deft touch with his material. The result is a Navigator that's out-of-this-world fun for adults as well as children. (PG)

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