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Entries in Earth to Echo [2014] (1)

Thursday
Jul032014

Earth to Echo (2014)

The Milquetoast Way

Imagine a kids' film about misfit friends living in a suburban housing complex, which is about to be demolished by greedy developers. On the eve of their separation, they embark on a perilous adventure--one that will test not only the limits of their lifelong , but their ability to maintain youthful innocence in the face of very adult peril.

Now, imagine a found-footage movie about a trio of high school friends. One is a confident but affable jock; one is a charismatic smart kid; one is an awkward boy struggling with what appear to be undiagnosed mental issues. They find an alien artifact in the back yard of a party, and embark on a journey that will test not only the limits of their lifelong relationships, but their ability to maintain youthful innocence in the face of very adult peril.

Now, imagine a movie about a lonely little boy who finds a cuddly, big-eyed alien in his back yard. He keeps the creature as a pet, secreting him away from his workaholic mom and a squad of snooping feds, who've popped up in the neighborhood. Determined to help his new friend return home, the boy and a group of misfits embark on a journey that will test not only the limits of their lifelong relationships, but their ability to maintain youthful innocence in the face of very adult peril.

Next, imagine a children's movie about kids who love movies. The group consists of misfit boys and one girl, all of whom are on the verge of discovering more complicated feelings about the opposite sex. They encounter an alien who wants nothing more than to return home. Determined to help him get there, the gang embarks on a journey that will test not only the limits of their lifelong relationships, but their ability to maintain youthful innocence in the face of very adult peril.

Imagine, if you will, a coming-of-age film about four pre-teen boys who hear about a dead body in the woods. They decide to recover it as part of their last weekend together. After concocting a web of sleepover cover stories for their clueless, emotionally unavailable parents, they embark on a journey that will test not only the limits of their lifelong relationships, but their ability to maintain youthful innocence in the face of very adult peril.

If any of these scenarios sound exciting or innovative to you, please rush out to see Earth to Echo this weekend. The filmmakers have you in mind.

For everyone else, stay away from this one, and dust-off or download The Goonies, Chronicle, E.T., Super 8,* and Stand By Me. Earth to Echo is an endless, charmless, identity-free approximation of real films with real voices. Its creators substitute Google Maps and voice-over for storytelling, and SNL-parody shaky-cam techniques for cinematography.

Also, there are only about five minutes of the titular, off-the-shelf-alien in this thing. The other eighty are jammed with kids who were taught to act first and act naturally second (or fifty-second), and whose dialogue consists almost entirely of the words "awesome", "whoa", "amazing", and "insane". It's like spending an hour-and-a-half watching a YouTube UFO documentary, as assembled by a gaggle of pre-pubescent Bill and Teds.

Which reminds me of another movie to watch instead of this one.

*Actually, if you see the other four, this one is perfectly skip-able.