Shake the Scene: Explorers


Explorers (1985)

Explorersposter1985The Scene: The boys meet Wak and Neek.

Why We Kinda Love This Scene: When I was younger and watched Explorers I usually was bored with the first 2/3rds of the movie because it’s just about three boys (River Phoenix, Ethan Hawke and Jason Presson) figuring out science stuff and building a homemade flying craft. This “ship” was in some sort of computer-generated invisible force field that was controllable and allowed the ship to fly. Hawke was a dreamer and a very relatable character and I liked him a lot but the real draw for me growing up was when they fly to outer space and are picked up by an alien spacecraft and they meet two goofy creatures. The female alien was air-headed and romantic while the male one was basically a comedian, using funny voices and telling jokes. Most of the voices were old sound clips of movies and TV shows because that’s what the aliens watched and listened to from Earth’s transmissions. I always thought they were hysterical and it was the highlight of the film for me.

Or so I thought. I watched some of the clips recently (the film is currently streaming on Netflix) and the tone of these scenes are a little out of place now in comparison to the rest of the film—which is a coming-of-age tale of three nerds and outcasts with grandiose daydreams and romantic teen angst. As an adult I now much rather watch the first 2/3rds since it speaks more to my sensibilities. Plus the aliens’ effects are so hokey and rubbery that it also adds to the tone misplacement. Don’t get me wrong, as a whole, the film is still great and by the end of the aliens’ scene it makes more sense to the overall story but the goofy humor is a little over the top. Joe Dante is a great storyteller and visual director and this is one of his better films along with Gremlins, InnerSpace and The ‘burbs. Top notch score by genius Jerry Goldsmith too. It’s a great teen 80s movie and I still highly recommend it, however my opinion of the film slightly altered from when I was younger—which is a good thing actually.


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