Reviewed by: Jessica D. Lovett
stealing in the Bible
lying in the Bible
importance of obeying and respecting parents
kids should not ride alone into dangerous places at night
importance of strong friendships and being a good friend
kids can make a difference
What does the Bible say about intelligent life on other planets? Answer
Are we alone in the universe? Answer
Does Scripture refer to life in space? Answer
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Teo Halm … Alex
Astro … Tuck
Reese Hartwig … Munch (as Reese C. Hartwig)
Ella Wahlestedt … Emma
Jason Gray-Stanford … Dr. Lawrence Madsen
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Walt Disney Studios
Picture with me a young boy on a bike at night, peddling furiously away from government agents with a childlike alien riding in his bike basket. What movie does this immediately make you think of? That’s right… Steven Spielberg’s immortal classic, “E.T.”. This iconic image is appropriated for “Earth to Echo,” except that the character of Elliot is replaced with a band of three boys, Alex (Teo Halm), Tuck (Brian “Astro” Bradley), and Munch (Reece Hartwig).
Ringing of another Spielberg classic, “The Goonies,” the kids’ neighborhood is facing the threat of being demolished in the name of progress—this time a high-rise roadway instead of the housing development in “The Goonies”—and upon their last weekend together, they stumble upon a map that leads them to adventure… also, exactly like in “The Goonies.” To modernize the paper treasure map idea a bit, the map pops up on their phones after some electrical interference in the area.
Lying to their parents in order to go out alone, they embark on a 17-mile journey into the desert on their bikes to find the source of the mysterious blinking lights on the map on their malfunctioning phones. As a parent, it would terrify me to put the idea into my children’s heads that it is a heroic and magical thing to bike out into the darkness alone to some strange place down a forgotten highway without permission or supervision. To me, that alone would be reason enough to avoid showing this movie to children, but there are lots more reasons besides its complete lack of originality and dangerous idea-planting.
Adults in authority are pushed beyond the old parents-just-don’t-understand-us-kids stereotype to the point where they are all almost zombie-like in their mindlessness. When the parents are lied to repeatedly and can see that all of their children are missing as night is falling, none of them take immediate action to find the kids or make any effort at all to act like real parents would. To top it all off, they let their kids have a sleepover—without knowing where, as the kids don’t give a straight answer to any of them—on the night before their moving to a new home early in the morning.
Going to the place their maps indicate, they discover that an alien creature has landed in the desert whom they name Echo—a pint-sized mix between a Furby toy, Wall-E and Bubo in “Clash of the Titans.” The rest of the movie consists mostly of the kids trying to help Echo rebuild his spacecraft.
Another important note to take into consideration before viewing this film is the cinematography! If you get seasick easily, avoid this movie like a rusty, wayward ship! I generally have a pretty strong stomach for films and can easily sacrifice a lot of viewing comfort for art that is worth experiencing, but this movie definitely falls into the enduring-not-enjoying category. To give it a YouTube flavor and presumably to flesh out Tuck’s character of an aspiring filmmaker, the whole movie is shot from the point-of-view of his various cameras—strapped on a bike, handheld, from spy-glasses cameras, etc. This isn’t just an effect that comes and goes, plugging into the normal cinematography in order to add character, though, as it is non-stop through the whole diagonally angled, choppy, swerving film. I found myself having to look at my feet on the still floor just to get my bearings.
Language: There are about 14 uses of God’s name in vain, 1 hell, and many uses of the word cr**—all spoken by children. There is much lying and dishonesty from all characters—to adults and to each other.
As for violence, there is brief fist fighting, kids pushing each other down, and the kids steal Tuck’s brother’s car and drive without a license, almost getting in a terrible accident. The kids go into a bar replete with unsavory characters, a shady pawn shop, and teen drinking party, where people are shown passed out.
There is not a lot of sexual content beyond a couple seen kissing, jokes made (including Munch saying that a situation is “as scary as balls” and characters talking about girls being “hot”), and an out of place comment Alex makes about wanting to sleep in Tuck’s mom’s bed.
There are repeated instances of the Alex, Tuck, and Munch being bad examples to younger viewers: stealing a car (Leviticus 19:11, “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another.), lying to parents (Ephesians 6:1, “Children obey your parents in everything, for you belong to the Lord.”), carving their names on property, destroying property in numerous places, breaking and entering, thinking that something is a bomb and deciding to go hit it lots of times to “defuse it,” and being disrespectful to those around them (Luke 6:31, “Do to others as you would have them do unto you.”).
Other reviewers have seen the clear homages to Spielberg’s work in this movie that I only touched on. In short, though there are some warm moments between the characters proving their loyalty of friendship to one another. Their friendship doesn’t seem to be founded on anything beyond the fact that they are all three social outcasts and no other kids want to be their friends. This fact alone propels them into an adventure that is colorful and has many borrowed cinematic bells-and-whistles that have proven in the past to be enjoyable in movies.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.