Hey, what would happen if E.T. landed on Earth and was discovered by a group of precocious kids, but — get this — all the kids had cell phones?
Then you would have the kid-friendly adventure “Earth to Echo,” a wildly derivative but not unlikable feature about adolescent bonding and a cute alien.
The film doesn’t have the heart or intelligence of the iconic “E.T.” (or other movies it borrows freely from, such as “Stand By Me” and “The Goonies”), but it’s simple, warm and light.
Shot home-movie style on a variety of cameras and phones, “Earth to Echo” follows the last night together of adolescent best buddies Munch (Reese Hartwig), Alex (Teo Halm) and Tuck (Brian “Astro” Bradley).
The group is being separated because the big bad government is scheduled to literally tear down their neighborhood. A strange signal on their cell phones, however, leads them on one last adventurous scavenger hunt.
It seems an adorable owlish alien is trying to duck shady government operatives, find the parts to rebuild his ship and return to his home planet.
Who better to help than three immature tweens, and a cute girl (played by Ella Wahlestedt) whom they add along the way?
The kids do a lot of pedaling on their bikes, follow a lot of blips on their phones and gradually find out more about their alien visitor.
There are no standouts in the mostly unknown (Bradley has appeared as a rapper on “X Factor” and would now like to be known only as Astro) young cast, but there are no clunkers either.
The film has a reasonably short running time, and there’s nothing that should be too frightening to even the youngest child.
“Earth to Echo” is in no way a great movie, but it’s very likely to please the younger crowd while not doing any damage to their parents.
Echo phone home?
Rental Recommendation: “Super 8” didn’t copy “E.T.” but it was a superb tribute to Steven Spielberg. Grade: A.
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"Earth to Echo"
Starring: Teo Halm, Brian "Astro" Bradley, Reese Hartwig
Rated: PG (for some action and peril, and mild language)
Running time: 89 minutes