Meet E.T.’s retarded younger brother. Christine Ebersole, Jonathan Ward and Katrina Caspary star in Mac and Me.
Director – Stewart Raffill
Screenplay – Stewart Raffill & Steve Feke
Producer – R.J. Louis
When a NASA spacecraft lands on an unknown planet to take rock and soil samples, a family of four curious alien beings discover it and are accidentally sucked up through its vacuum, and taken back to Earth. After managing to escape from the military lab they’ve arrived at, the youngest of the four aliens hides in a van occupied by a wheelchair-bound boy named Eric Cruise (Jade Calegory), his older brother Michael (Jonathan Ward) and their mom Janet (Christine Ebersole).
Upon finding the little extra-terrestrial, Eric names it MAC (Mysterious Alien Creature), and soon learns that his newfound undocumented friend is searching for his long-lost family, who are wandering around in the desert, and can only survive by drinking Coca-Cola Classic.
‘Cause they’re the ones paying for this film.
If Mac is to be reunited with his family, he’ll need both Eric and Michael’s help in avoiding those big bad meanies over at NASA.
1982 was a great year for film. It was that year that we got John Carpenter’s The Thing, Blade Runner, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Poltergeist, Tootsie, An Officer and a Gentleman, Gandhi, Sophie’s Choice, 48 Hrs., The Verdict, and First Blood. We also got a little sci-fi sleeper from an unknown director named Steven Spielberg called E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial that won the title of box office king by a mile, beating out its second place competitor Tootsie by over double.
And what happens when a highly marketable film wins both box office dollars and critical praise? Well, the other studios get jealous and decide to put out their rehashed version. Gremlins gave way to both Ghoulies and Hobgoblins. The Mad Max films gave way to Badlanders. Paranormal Activity gave way to every single found-footage horror film known to man, and Spielberg’s sweet little titular alien gave way to the product placement orgy that is Mac and Me, a film that is such a blatant ripoff of E.T. it’s only one Drew Barrymore away from completing the cloning process.
Unfortunately, by 1988, Barrymore was probably too busy being face deep in a mountain of cocaine to make an appearance. Oddly enough, even 20/20 hindsight will agree that a near career-destroying addiction to booze and drugs will still go down as a better life choice than taking any role in Mac and Me.
Why Mac and Me was made is as clear as day. It’s a cash grab by Orion Pictures to capitalize on the massive success Universal earned from E.T. And from Orion’s perspective, it’s the best kind of cash grab ’cause I’m fairly certain they didn’t have to drop down a single cent for this film. Coke (the main character in this film), McDonald’s, Sears and Mars, Inc. clearly had to have funded a movie that is nothing but advertisements for their products. Did you know that Coca-Cola Classic is the main source of nourishment for these aliens? I didn’t. I guess it’s no longer just polar bears.
Why not Pepsi or 7-Up? Well, because they were smart enough to avoid paying for advertising space in this turd.
In case you’re wondering, yes, I counted. That’s two mentions of either McDonald’s or Big Macs, one entire commercialized, elaborately choreographed dance number that takes place inside Mickey D’s, two blatantly advertised shots of Skittles and seven Coke references. If we’re counting each soda can as an individual reference, then the giant display at the grocery store makes it more like seven hundred.
But forget all the mass product placement, as well as all the little moments where the laws of physics are bent, twisted, broken and shattered into pieces. You know moments like a wheelchair bound kid that rolls down a hill, goes flying off a cliff and plummets, at minimum, 50-60 feet into a lake (that definitely doesn’t look like a dummy strapped to a wheelchair by any means), yet survives. Forget all that. If we can suspend disbelief over a time-traveling DeLorean, then the world’s most durable cripple should be a cinch. No, all that aside, this movie doesn’t even work as a family movie. For starters, and the main issue, the story boils down to a mix of a ripoff of the late Melissa Matheson’s E.T. screenplay and a fast food commercial. Secondly, the so-called adorable creatures that are supposed to win over our hearts neither win over our hearts, nor are they adorable. Then again, if what kinda looks like a swollen, hairless testicle with googly eyes is your idea of adorable, then this creepy family of walking ball sacks will melt your heart.
Yeah, yeah, I know. “Well, E.T. is basically a walking erect penis.” Sure, but when that waddly little guy reminds Elliot, “I’ll be right here “, every kid around the world’s moved to tears… while their concerned parents consider the fact that their child is tearing up over a cute phallic-looking creature. Does Mac have that heartfelt power E.T. possesses? I think not.
I may have just inadvertently ruined E.T. for everyone.
Going back to that kid Eric, boy, does he take a beating throughout this movie. Not only does he survive a free-fall that would normally kill any other living organism not gifted with the ability to fly; not only does he survive more collateral damage than a Michael Bay film, but he also survives an explosion that looks like it doesn’t even come close to hitting him, but somehow still manages to kill him (once again, definitely not a dummy in that wheelchair). Don’t worry, though, ’cause Mac and his family are gonna save the day. By giving him Coca-Cola? No, I think by this point, the soft drink corporation has tapped out their advertising resources. Instead, the scrotal four do some sort of whistling black magic to bring him back to life.
But he’s still unable to walk, so if I were Eric, I’d be calling bull shit on those heartless dicks.
And just when you thought it couldn’t end on a happier note than Eric being resurrected from the dead, Mac – wearing, of course, a McDonald’s T-shirt – and his family are sworn in as official U.S. citizens, which if anything, shows the horrid lack of oversight that’s put into our country’s naturalization process. Shit like this is what leads to Independence Day.
Strip out the genuine warmth, sentiment and ability to make even the most cold-hearted bastard cry that E.T. so effortlessly brought, replace it with every sort of product placement under the sun and you have Mac and Me, a 90-minute ploy to sell as many Big Macs and Coke products as possible. And to think I expected better from the director of Mannequin Two: On the Move and Tammy and the T-Rex.
Now, if you excuse me, the McDonald’s meal this movie brainwashed me into purchasing is calling my name.