Explorers

Explorers. Paramount Pictures 1985.

Before watching the movie:

I know pretty much nothing about this. I’d never heard of it before it languished in one of my streaming queues for years untouched, looking vaguely interesting, but not all that exciting. Looking closer now, I see it’s a story about a couple of boys who build an intergalactic spaceship in their backyard and have a fantastical coming of age adventure and… how did I not encounter this growing up? A kid-oriented sci-fi movie from square in the middle of the 80s, which produced such sci-fi-ish legends most of the best Star Trek movies, two-thirds of the original Star Wars trilogy, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, and such childhood classics as Stand By Me, Labyrinth (I thought I reviewed that one?), The Never-Ending Story, and of course the most-known member of both categories, E.T.? This seems like it could have had the chance to have been my favorite movie at age nine, maybe as a companion to Flight of the Navigator if I’d known about that before my teens.

I think I’ve experienced movies too late before (see most classic slasher movies, which I was too scared of to watch when they wouldn’t have seemed cheesy to me), so I’m hoping that watching this movie as an entire adult won’t diminish the magic it looks like they’re trying to capture here too much.

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Stand By Me

Stand By Me. Act III Productions 1986.
Stand By Me. Act III Productions 1986.

Before watching the movie:

I mainly know of this movie because it was apparently the biggest thing in Wil Wheaton’s child acting career besides Star Trek, and as I keep up with his internet presence, it comes up a lot. I only know the broadest strokes of the plot, that there’s a group of boys who have some kind of adventure that leaves them all changed, like The Goonies, though more mundane. Everything else I think I know comes from the Simpsons episode that I think is based on this.

I’m not normally drawn to coming of age films, as I’m neither young enough to appreciate them as a child nor old enough to absorb the nostalgia of childhood adventure. Indeed, I’m from after the era where children commonly wandered freely outside of school to make lasting friends and life-changing discoveries, so this kind of film is somewhat foreign to me. But I have the impression that it’s a classic from the mid-80s, even if it doesn’t have as strong or visible a cult following as many others.

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