Picks and Pans Review: E.T.

UPDATED 04/01/2002 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 04/01/2002 at 01:00 AM EST

The Extra-Terrestrial
Henry Thomas, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore, Dee Wallace Stone
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Some classics only get better with time, and 20 years later it's abundantly clear that director Steven Spielberg's marvelous film about a boy's friendship with a stranded alien is one for the ages. Rereleased in a new print that includes digital touch-ups and two previously unused scenes, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial still evokes laughter, tears and that heart-lifting surge of joy only a great movie can bring.

On re-seeing E.T., what stands out is the purity of the relationship between Elliott (Thomas), the movie's pint-size hero, and E.T., the stubby space creature who accidentally gets left behind when his comrades and spaceship depart. Initially frightened of each other (the scene where boy and creature scream simultaneously at the sight of the other is a comic high point), Elliott and E.T. soon are best buds, and Elliott doesn't hesitate to take on the role of protector for his new friend. Likewise, E.T. is instantly accepted by Elliott's siblings—older brother Michael (MacNaughton) and little sister Gertie (Barrymore, then 6)—though Gertie, observing E.T.'s rapacious appetite, does ask, "Is he a pig? He sure eats like one."

A restored scene showing the water-loving space creature taking a bath is a hoot and adds to our understanding later when, near death, he is discovered in a streambed. The new digital enhancements, which subtly increase the range of E.T.'s facial expressions and allow Elliott's cape to flap in the wind when he's airborne on his bicycle, are barely noticeable. The only big change, converting the guns of the lawmen chasing E.T. to less threatening walkie-talkies, does not bother this purist a whit. (PG)

Bottom Line: Extra Terrific

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