In “Earth to Echo,” kids run into trouble when they help a space alien. | ★★ out of 4 stars
If do-it-yourself rawness is your thing, “Earth to Echo” is your movie.
Its stars are a quartet of cute-enough, likable-enough child actors who did not emerge from Disney’s clone lab Petri dishes. The story is a small-scale (cheap) jumble of ideas filched from “E.T.,” “Goonies,” “Super 8,” “Stand by Me,” “Men in Black” and “Explorers.” First-time director Dave Green presents it as a found-footage adventure, a needless stylistic twist that excuses a lot of jitterbug camerawork and inexpensive location shots in the name of spurious realism.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. There is a whole lot of echoing going on in the screenplay.
Suburban pals (plus a bossy girl) join forces to reunite a marooned space alien with its friends. Menacing scientists want to retrieve “Echo,” the owl-shaped metallic visitor, for purposes of their own, triggering chases and kid subterfuge. Bedtimes are ignored, bikes are ridden outside of the neighborhood. Parents, doing their grown-up thing, are oblivious. The youngsters rise to the challenge of disobeying the adult world, and emerge mildly bruised but wiser.
Hmmmm. Sounds vaguely familiar.
The unabashedly unoriginal ingredients have worked before, and I suppose if you are 7 years old and seeing them for the first time here they may work again. If you are of an age when putting Jolly Ranchers in your nostrils is no longer high comedy, you attend a movie like this out of duty to your kids. Stiff upper lip, then. Some days are more about them having a good time than us having a good time.
Colin Covert • 612-673-7186★★ out of 4 stars