Mac and Me (1988) – Review

Coming 6 years after E.T. the Extra Terrestrial , Mac and Me’s plot is instantly recognisable – an alien finds himself on earth, befriends a young boy with his own problems, people don’t believe the boy for a while as he’s trying to save the alien from the government officials intent on securing the creature. Further to this, a working title for E.T. was E.T. and MeFrom hereon it would be fair to say ‘okay, it’s not the most original concept, but perhaps it’s a nice enough film’. It isn’t. Produced on a reasonable budget of $16 million it bombed at the box office, received abysmal reviews, and has only since gained some vague popularity as the ‘so bad it’s good’ camps (including myself) have discovered it. The titular Mac (Mysterious Alien Creature) and his horrifically deformed family find themselves inexplicably sucked into a NASA probe and brought back to earth. They are separated meaning the allegedly cute but actually quite disturbing Mac finds himself in suburban California. This is where Eric and his Mother & Brother have just moved to, prompting ‘hilarious’ escapades. Eric is wheelchair-bound (the actor playing him has spina bifida), which in itself is worth applauding. The moments  this introduces vary from agreeable fun; such as him using the wheelchair to speed down a hill away from the bad guys; to somewhat questionable; after this chase he careers into oncoming traffic. Also a scene featuring Eric melodramatically wheeling through a meadow swiftly turns into the most inadvertently iconic scene of the movie – what made them think this scene was okay is beyond me.

OH GOD KILL IT

These adventures in suburbia are juxtaposed against increasingly disturbing scenes of Mac’s family trying to make it through the desert to find him. Growing weaker and thinner, they are seen collapsing while the father desperately tries to find some food for them. On their home planet they are seen drinking from underground liquid, but of course in the desert they find none. Mac however finds a substance that matches perfectly – Coca Cola. E.T. has the somewhat infamous Reese’s Pieces product placement, but it wasn’t a major plot point. I’d estimate that a Coca Cola logo is visible in the frame in at least half of the scenes, and the placement doesn’t end there. Skittles are frequently visible for no reason, until one scene where Mac is somehow able to eat them, bringing his earthly diet up to the standard of a 10-year-old’s dream. The simultaneously greatest and worst moment of the film however comes from what I think may be the most outrageous, blatant product placement of any film. An entire key scene is set in a MacDonald’s restaurant, even featuring Ronald MacDonald himself and a main character a member of staff. If this wasn’t enough, literally everyone in the restaurant is dancing with saccharin grins on their faces; it goes so far that it is like watching a 10 minute advert for MacDonalds. Actually, it is not ‘like’ watching one, it IS watching a 10 minute advert. I watched the trailer for the film afterwards and, well, just have a look for yourselves;

Otherwise, acting isn’t shockingly bad but certainly isn’t great and the effects would be reasonably good if it wasn’t for the horrible design of the aliens. The plot plods through in a pretty straight-forward, predictable manner until the final 10 minutes, which come with a couple of surprises, if only because it seems the writers themselves weren’t too sure what should happen. Ending on a foreboding and presumptuous promise of ‘We’ll be Back!’, the unanimously poor reception provided the mercy of there being no sequel. Unfortunately it doesn’t commit to being completely terrible, with a few positive points stopping it from troubling the greatest ‘bad movies’ like Plan 9 From Outer Space & Troll 2, but it has enough misguided scenes and uniquely shameless product placement to satisfy anyone who enjoys this specific genre.

2/10

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