There are many reasons why I love my parents: they allowed me to read, listen to and watch pretty much anything I wanted to, but still would discuss it with me and encourage me to have an open mind. Their sense of humor and fun helped make me who I am today. Yet for all the reasons and more, one of the biggest is that they never forced me to watch movies that were made for kids.
A NASA vehicle is taking soil samples when it ends up vacuuming four aliens and taking them back to Earth. Quickly, that family of Sea Monkey looking aliens escapes, because they can heal or destroy anything they touch. However, the youngest gets seperated and ends up tagging along with the Cruise family: wheelchair-using Eric, older brother Michael and their mother Janet (Christine Ebersole, whose career is filled with horror, like the 1980-81 SNL season and the Bill Cosby vehicle Ghost Dad).
The Cruise family has moved from Chicago to Sacremento, but the alien ruins most of their new home near instantly. Eric tries to catch him, but his wheelchair goes flying down a hill (if you’ve seen Paul Rudd on Conan, you know this scene).
The alien, now known as MAC (Mysterious Alien Creature), is on the run from the FBI. That doesn’t stop them from going to a McDonald’s birthday party — more on that in a bit — with MAC disguised as a teddy bear.
The journey to reunite MAC with his family ends up getting Eric killed. Yep, this is a kid movie where the main kid gets shot in the crossfire between an alien and the police. Look for George “Buck” Flower as a security guard!
Seriously, if you get the Japanese VHS of this, Eric is graphically shot.
Luckily, those aliens can heal anything they can touch, right? Once the government sees this, they just forget using the aliens as a weapon and harvesting their organs. No, they give them American citizenship and let them live in peace. Obviously, this is the kind of insane border policy that President Trump is railing against.
So about all the McDonald’s — the producer of the film had worked with the fast food titan on several ad campaigns and with their Ronald McDonald House Charities. He also wanted to create an E.T. for a new generation, which is strange considering that Spielberg’s film had only been made six years earlier.
That’s when he hatched his scam. He could use the McDonald’s brand throughout the film, the restaurants would promote it and the proceeds would go to the charity. These are the kind of ideas that advertising professionals — trust me, I am one — do lots of drugs after they come up with, as they realize they have no soul left.
While McDonald’s didn’t expressly finance the film, Golden State Foods, their food service arm, did fund some of it. The brand didn’t want their mascot, Ronald McDonald, to appear. However, he’s all over the dance sequence in the film and its trailer.
The film doubles up on endorsing products, with Sears and Coca-Cola showing up in nearly every scene and Skittles — instead of Reese’s Pieces — being consumed by MAC. Hell, even his name suggests McDonald’s! The shrapnel ended up exploding all over Ronald, with him winning Worst New Star in the 9th Golden Raspberry Awards.
This is the kind of movie you love because you grew up on it. Or hate your parents. Probably both. I’m glad I didn’t watch it until I owned my own home and had discovered my own unique identity.