BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED
MIRACLE ON 8th STREET
Batteries Not Included was originally intended as an episode of Steven Spielbergs fantasy anthology tv series Amazing Stories (1985-7) but Spielberg considered the idea such a good one that he had it developed to feature-length. The screen story comes from Spielbergs Amazing Stories script editor Mick Garris, who would later become one of the worst directors to ever grace the genre with Stephen King adaptations such as Sleepwalkers (1992), The Stand (1994) and Riding the Bullet (2004). There is an amazing number of later-to-be-famous names on the script. The script came from writing team of Brent Maddock and S.S. Wilson who had written the previous years cute robot hit Short Circuit (1986) and would go onto write Tremors (1990) and a number of other genre films. Also on script was animator Brad Bird who had made the cultish Family Dog episode for the first season of Amazing Stories and would go onto direct the excellent The Iron Giant (1999) and the Pixar films The Incredibles (2004) and Ratatouille (2007), before breaking into live-action with Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol (2011) and Tomorrowland (2015).
However, by the time Batteries Not Included was made, the Spielbergian formula had become so predictable that one can virtually anticipate this films every move the villains redemption at the end; in the dead cert guarantee that when the house is demolished the saucers are going to return by the end and rebuild it. The surprise is that, despite the cliches, Batteries Not Included remains a film of many charms. Not the least of which are the adorable dinky-size flying saucers that sprout everything from miniature buzzsaws to laser cigarette lighters and helicopter vanes, duel with paintbrushes, work as short order cooks, even scuttle about inside startled diners hamburger buns. The one other great thing about the film is the pairing of real-life husband-and-wife team Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy as the OAPers. Jessica Tandy especially, gives a performance of full-blown eccentricity that holds much appeal.
Matthew Robbins occasionally miscues many of the dramatic scenes and the film spends too much time with its villain and weak supporting characters. However, it rises above itself consistently enough whenever the saucers are around to hold endearing charms. The one final thing that cannot go unmentioned is James Horners fine score there is an absolutely delightful moment where he choreographs a waltz to the saucers entrance into and dance through the apartment.