Randal Kleiser’s “Flight of the Navigator” opens with one of many nice 1980s music montages.
We don’t merely get a UFO whirling round Florida however a flying saucer in query that winds up being a frisbee. We then see dozens of canine, in mid-air, as they leap to their ft and catch an entourage of frisbees in gradual movement.
Seems, there was once a Frisbee throwing canine catching contest in Florida within the 1970s (I regarded it up). We watch as a number of mutts attempt to catch the plastic orbs in gradual movement. It’s set to Alan Silvestri’s rousing synthesizer theme and one of many goofiest and enthralling opening credit score montages of its decade.
The story that develops includes David (Joey Cramer), a younger boy who leaves his residence one evening on a stroll into the woods. When he returns, years have handed however he hasn’t aged, and his house is now inhabited by an odd geriatric couple (it’s a severely creepy scene).
When police intervene and reconnect David to his household, who has now moved away, it’s a haunting sight, as you’ll be able to see the years of David’s disappearance have taken a bodily and psychological toll on them.
NASA scientists supply to watch David for a couple of days and he and his household undergo the checks. What occurred to David, was he kidnapped by a UFO and why hasn’t he aged? Additionally, why is there a UFO that enables NASA scientists to haul it into the again of their truck?
“Flight of the Navigator” is actually two films – one is the eerie sci-fi thriller of the primary and many of the second half, whereas the remainder is a sturdy kids’s movie a couple of boy who will get his very personal spaceship. I’ve at all times loved this film and proceed to, however I’d argue that the primary half is stronger and extra compelling, whereas the second half is pleasurable however foolish.
A setting proper out of “The Twilight Zone” steadily settles into being a Saturday morning cartoon. That’s advantageous, and it’s onerous to think about this remaining a reasonably darkish and unsettling youngster’s nightmare. Nonetheless, as soon as David is behind the wheel of his very personal spaceship, you’ll be able to really feel the Disney machine taking the wheel from Rod Serling.
Cramer is fairly good at carrying the complete movie (this was his lone starring function). Cliff DeYoung and Veronica Cartwright are efficient as David’s mother and father, Howard Hessman is okay because the scientist overseeing David’s interval of surveillance and I particularly preferred Matt Adler (the lead in “North Shore”) as David’s “older little brother.
The largest identify right here is definitely Paul Reubens, offering the voice of “Max” throughout his superstardom as Pee-Wee Herman (Reubens is credited as “Paul Mall” nevertheless it’s a giant function, despite the fact that you by no means see the actor).
The science fiction at hand is wobbly, as there’s by no means a superb reason why aliens would abduct a child, spend years with him, then erase his recollections and dump him again on Earth, not to mention do primarily the identical factor with a menagerie of different aliens onboard. An enormous deal is made about how time journey might vaporize you, although the film demonstrates that it’s actually not a giant deal in any respect.
FAST FACT: Younger Joey Cramer’s movie profession started, and ended within the 1980s. A long time later, he made headlines for all of the fallacious causes. He obtained arrested in 2016 for robbing a British Columbian financial institution.
There’s a serious missed alternative on the story stage: its established early on that David has a crush on Jennifer Bradley, a lady seen using her bike in his neighborhood. She’s roughly the identical age as David. Once we get to the second act, David meets the much-older Carolyn, a employee at NASA who’s each pleasant and flirtatious(!) and she or he’s performed by Sarah Jessica Parker.
It might be a straightforward repair explaining that Carolyn is the grown-up model of the woman David as soon as was infatuated with, that Carolyn’s being particularly candy to David is a mirrored image of an equally unfulfilled crush from childhood. Nope, Parker is taking part in a very completely different character and her habits in direction of David, whereas not wildly out of line, is at the very least inappropriate.
As goofy and juvenile as that is, its effectively crafted, rigorously paced and numerous enjoyable. That is simply among the best live-action Disney movies of the late ’80s, round that point the place films like “Trenchcoat” and “The Satan and Max Devlin” have been on their means out, whereas works like this and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” grew to become a priceless precedence.
Whereas not a hit in theaters, “Flight of the Navigator” discovered an appreciative viewers on videocassette and repeat viewings on The Disney Channel, the place I watched it dozens of occasions.
Along with Silvestri’s rating, surprisingly sturdy visible results and a welcome humorousness, the aerial footage is a serious asset. The attract of the premise (being a child along with his personal spaceship) comes throughout by the stirring exterior spaceship footage.
Final evening’s movie:
FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR pic.twitter.com/o9QK99tr8x
— Isaac’s Haunted Beard (@IsaacsHauntedB) June 19, 2021
Kleiser’s profession is an interesting instance of a director who made a slew of mainstream hits that had nothing in widespread with each other (attempt watching this and his “The Blue Lagoon” and “Grease” and discovering any sort of connective thread).
Whereas Kleiser makes eye-catching hits, this one stands out for being particularly formidable and, once we’re hovering by the air, thrilling, too.
I want there wasn’t that low cost shot in there about Japan (full with a stereotypical joke) and why does the PG ranking permit a lot profanity in a Disney movie? Minimize the unhealthy phrases and Parker’s creepy fixation on David and this simply would have rated G.
In any case, this is without doubt one of the standout titles within the Disney catalog. Whereas it’s at its strongest when it’s about childhood fears than giving us a boy’s sci-fi fantasy, “Flight of the Navigator” has a timeless attraction, and I might vouch for that firsthand: what was as soon as one in all my favourite films rising up is now amongst my five-year-old daughter’s as effectively.
It appears each child needs their very own spaceship.