Tuesday 24 April 2012

Flight of the Navigator

I was in Walmart and as I passed the cheap family movie DVD bin, I spotted an old favourite which I hadn’t seen in well over a decade.  Disney’s Flight of the Navigator, the story of a twelve year old boy who is abducted by aliens in 1978 and returned 8 years later, unaged and with no conscious memory of where he’s been.  When he’s studied by NASA, his brain is able to communicate directly with the computers and is full of unknown star charts.  NASA is also holding the space ship, which crashed into power lines after returning the boy.  The boy returns to the space ship where the computer controlling it downloads the charts (and some eighties pop culture) and the two embark on a journey to return the boy to his home and family.

It’s a pretty good children’s science fiction story.  Nothing too scary, fun Jim Henson puppet aliens.  Some surprisingly long sequences of dogs catching Frisbees.  But overall, I was pleasantly surprised to discover it had aged well. 

I’m always hesitant to revisit these childhood classics.  Things are so much more impressive when you’re six and seven.  Some unfortunate experiences with Thundercats, Jem and the Holograms and the saddest discovery of all, Mr. Rogers, have taught me that just because I loved it as a kid doesn’t mean I’m going to be able to tolerate it as an adult.  Some things are better left in Nostalgialand. 

We sat down to watch it with Nathan and he enjoyed it.  And more importantly, I enjoyed it.  It didn’t wow me like it did when I was a kid but it was a good children’s movie.  Highlights for the grown-up: a fun performance by Sarah Jessica Parker and a surprisingly serious one from Howard Hesseman.

I think it’s a good introductory science fiction movie.  Much friendlier than E.T., the one my parents chose to take me to.  (Don’t let children under six see that movie, everyone my age who saw it in theatres was traumatized.  Or at least, everyone I’ve talked to.)  When Nathan gets a little older, about seven or eight, then we’ll bring out E.T. and the Back to the Future movies.  But for now, he’s had a good experience and a good introduction.

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