Quick Movie Reviews: Flight of the Navigator (1986)

Flight of the Navigator starts out strong. After a family outing on the Fourth of July, 12-year-old Joey is sent to fetch his annoying little brother from a friend’s house, but along the way big brother falls into a ravine and knocks himself out. When he wakes up and hoofs it back to his house, some old lady answers the door. She has no idea who he is. His parents are nowhere to be found. It turns out he’s been missing for 8 years. His parents, now visibly aged and haggard, break down when the police return him. His little brother is now his big brother.

This is pretty dark stuff for a Disney film, but it quickly becomes sort of an E.T. meets Close Encounters clone, with a dash of D.A.R.Y.L. and a pinch of Explorers. As the kid and his family are trying to figure out what’s going on, NASA discovers a crashed alien spacecraft. Dr. Faraday (Howard Hesseman from WKRP and Head of the Class) smells a link between the unaged Joey and the alien ship, and moves the kid to a scientific facility for observation. Hip teen rocker Carolyn (Sarah Jessica Parker) befriends Joey and eventually helps him bust out and get to the ship (a presence inside has been calling to him telepathically).

You can figure out what happens next. It’s a fun little movie with some substance, back when filmmakers treated kids with some respect.

2 Responses to “Quick Movie Reviews: <em>Flight of the Navigator</em> (1986)”

  1. 1 leftylimbo August 8, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    I saw bits and pieces of this movie on cable back in the late ’80s. Liked what I saw; I should take time to see the whole thing. Isn’t this the movie where the kid is inside that weird “drop of mercury” looking ship and he tells the robot/navigator to go “a mile up”…and he makes the ship go precisely 1 mile up into the air? I think it even shows a measurement on the screen, lol.

  2. 2 2W2N August 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    You got it. The movie is a little cutesy once the “navigator” gets inside the ship, but overall it’s fun and the effects/ship design are impressive for the time.

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