Story

A young boy, Elliott (Henry Thomas), hears some noises outside and goes to investigate. He is terrified when he finds a small alien creature, who is just as afraid of him. Elliott decides to take the creature into the house, where he hides him in his bedroom. Elliott names the alien ET. He eventually introduces ET to his older brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton), younger sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore) and the family dog, but not to his mother Mary (Dee Wallace).

Elliott and ET learn to understand and communicate with each other. Elliott also knows that if ET is found, ET will be taken away. ET starts to learn some words and tells Elliot that he really wants to go home to his own planet. Elliott sets out to help ET find a way to contact his family and find his way home. At the same, Elliott and ET must avoid the government agents who are closing in on them.

Themes

Aliens

Violence

This movie has some violence. For example:

  • Name-calling and bullying on a school bus lead to a fight.
  • Elliott cuts a plastic tunnel loose from the van that Michael is driving. It contains government agents, who get dragged along the road.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight years. For example:

  • The opening scene shows a spaceship landing and aliens setting out to explore. They’re frightened by men approaching them. The aliens run screaming back to the spaceship. One gets left behind. Eerie music plays during the scene.
  • When Elliott meets ET for the first time, they both scream and ET’s neck gets longer. ET has bulging eyes and looks a bit scary.
  • A man with a mask listens to the boy’s conversation.
  • A team of government agents searches Elliott’s house while there’s no-one home.
  • Elliott spends the night out with ET trying to contact ET’s home. Elliott’s mother is very worried and calls the police, thinking that he has run away. When Elliott does return, he has a fever and is quite ill.
  • ET is left up on a hill. He lies on the ground in the wet and looks dead.
  • Michael brings ET home, and Mary meets him for the first time. She’s very afraid.
  • Government agents wearing space suits and breathing apparatus invade the house. The army, soldiers and the police surround the house.
  • ET and Elliott both lie on beds with tubes and electrodes stuck to them.
  • ET appears to die. Medics try to resuscitate him, but they can’t do it. This is quite a traumatic scene – Elliott is screaming and begging ET to live. 

From 8-13

Children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above. 

Over 13

This movie should be OK for this age group. 

Sexual references

None of concern 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

This movie shows some use of substances. For example, ET drinks a can of beer from the fridge. He gets dizzy and falls down. Elliott also feels weird. 

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern 

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie: Coke and V8. 

Coarse language

This movie has some coarse language and name-calling. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

ET the Extra Terrestrial is an exciting adventure story about the friendship between a young boy and an alien. It is a classic science fiction movie, but some of its scenes might be too intense for younger viewers.

The main message from this movie is about accepting others who are different.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include friendship, loyalty, courage and selflessness.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life questions such as the following:

  • Is it good to hide things from your parents, or should Elliott have told his mother about ET?
  • Did Elliott and his family really need to take such drastic steps to defy the authorities and save ET’s life?