Retrospeculative #1

Flight of the Navigator

I watched this movie about five million times in the late ’80s, and not once since.

A young boy, who has been replaced in my mind by Elliott from E.T., disappears from his home in the dim past (’60s or ’70s) and mysteriously reappears in the modern day (’86?) seemingly un-aged and hearing a mysterious voice in his head!

The boy (hereafter referred to as Elliot 2) is taken as a captive test-subject by those militant bastards in NASA. They don’t care who they have to dissect in their sick quest for science. NASA has a huge budget that includes miles of pavement, an autonomous-robot food cart and Sarah Jessica Parker as some kind of NASA candy striper. Elliot 2 is bored and restless even though he’s in the future flirting with a girl who has actual breasts. I don’t care what you think of her, being within 10 feet of breasts at the age of 12 or 13 trumps the fact that it’s Sarah Jessica Parker.

Feeling sorry for Elliot 2, Sarah Jessica Parker (you have to use all three names every time you mention her, it’s the law) comes up with an ingenious escape plan: Climb inside that food cart and just roll away.

After driving past a really big truck and some warehouses, the cart eventually ends up in another of NASA’s top-secret hangars. The voice has gotten louder, so the kid explores and finds a floating chrome acorn-shaped spaceship! It’s entirely unattended, since NASA’s sinister agenda apparently does not include guards or experiments. With awesome special effects a staircase appears, flowing out of the body of the ship like liquid metal. It turns out the spaceship is the source of the mysterious voice in Elliot 2’s head; it’s alive or something, and characterized by a mobile periscope.

The ship and Elliot 2 escape, somehow tearing right through the five bungee cords and tarp loosely draped over the ship. By now, two guards monitoring the security cameras have woken up. No doubt fearing the wrath of their twisted NASA overlords, they have started to panic and turn on red spinning lights. Nobody could have anticipated the spaceship ... um ... flying away, right?

What follows is a Thelma and Louise cat-and-mouse chase, if that movie had a spaceship and small boy instead of two spunky ladies. The spaceship changes shape and hauls ass past some cows, all while being followed by those fascist SOBs from NASA. There are some laughs as the ship takes everything literally, doesn’t understand taking a piss, and does a Pee-Wee Herman impression. Just like Thelma and Louise.

It turns out the spaceship is on some kind of research trip and abducted Elliot 2 innocently from the past. Elliot 2 is still young due to the effects of near-lightspeed travel. He has no memory of the trip or the assumed probing. It was supposed to travel back in time and return him, but screwed up somehow, and now it needs to retrieve star maps from the repressed memories of the “navigator,” which is what I should have called Elliot 2 this whole time.

NASA, who will stop at nothing to get the spaceship back into the hangar and ignore it, has started to hassle Ell—sorry, The Navigator’s—family. Since The Navigator can’t reunite with his family, he makes the ship take him back in time like it was supposed to, and I don’t know why it didn’t in the first place. He wakes up in a '60s-or-'70s ditch and walks home like nothing ever happened. Except he has a souvenir in a cute, Muppet-like alien pet, and we have learned a heartwarming lesson about what it means to be human: Spaceships are cool.

I give my memory of this movie an A+.