Hey it’s 1979! A kid in a Smashing Pumpkins video is rolling down a hill in a tire! I once dated a girl who was obsessed with the Smashing Pumpkins. She called Billy Corgan “Billleeee” just like the mogwai Gizmo in Gremlins. I used to have a Gizmo clock with the clock face in his belly, like if you’d hunted and killed a mogwai and had a taxidermist stuff him with a clock. This is to symbolize all the time you’ll never have, Gizmo!
Joe Lamb loses his mom in a steel mill accident. His dad is the sheriff! A man with sideburns is to blame for his mother’s death, but it was an accident. Joe’s dad arrests Sideburns just for showing up to the funeral. You broke the law against hurting my feelings! Joe’s friends Glasses, Husky and Fireworks are making a movie. Sideburns’s daughter Alice is helping them make the movie, too. Because their fathers hate each other, Alice and Joe aren’t supposed to hang out together. Their dads act like somebody brought the wrong chocolates to The Ladies Auxiliary Club meeting every time they see each other.
The kids are in the middle of making an adorably amateurish zombie movie at a train station when a passing train crashes. An alien folds his copy of The New York Times, wraps up his iPod earbuds and gets off the train. Then the Air Force shows up. Oh, and it was their science teacher that ran the train off the tracks. Before he dies he’s like, you kids don’t tell anybody you saw this. Because the Air Force will kill you. Then he points a gun at them. Mixed messages, right? Seems like everybody wants to get in on the killing-kids-because-they-saw-something-they-shouldn’t-have action.
Then mysterious things start happening around town. Engines go missing from cars, lights flicker on and off and dogs run away. That happens every time I try to cook something more complicated than macaroni and cheese. You’ll notice I used the more formal title instead of just writing “mac and cheese”. Is it that much harder to say the word macaroni? Yankee Doodle didn’t seem to have a problem with it when he was describing the feather in his hat. Of course, his ability to correct identify macaroni or feathers was severely impaired.
Joe and his friends find out the alien is just trying to rebuild his ship so he can get leave this godforsaken planet. Is there anything worse than being stuck at a party you hate and you don’t have a ride? Everyone is always like, just call a cab! Do you know how long it takes for a cab to show up in Atlanta? At least half an hour. And they’re the worst drivers. They drive like they’ve got a blue turtle shell and they’re about to knock Donkey Kong out of first place with it.
I found it hard to believe a spider monster with pinchers and claws built an advanced spacefaring vessel. He doesn’t wear clothes, he crawls around on spider legs and lives in a subterranean lair. If he’s so great with technology, wouldn’t he have some other devices like a communicator on his claw or the space-horror-creature equivalent of a bluetooth earpiece? I don’t get in my car to go to the store without my cellphone and my pants on, the Super 8 alien travelled billions of miles and he didn’t even bother to put on his space boxers. I think he found some peaceful space travelers and ate them and took their ship. He’s the galactic equivalent of a naked car thief hopped up on meth with a passenger seat full of Hustlers and beef jerky.
Anyway, I really enjoyed Super 8 because it was very Spielbergian and also very J. J. Abramsian so there were kids on bikes having adventures and lens flares. I also liked the emphasis on the value of friendship and the healing power of catharsis. Oh, and kids sneaking around avoiding the military to make sure an alien gets home safely. If I was a marooned space alien, I wouldn’t contact any scientists or world leaders. I’d just find some plucky kids who believed in themselves. Sure, I’d have to wear a wig and lipstick and eat some Reese’s Pieces for a while but before you knew it I’d be rocketing off in my spaceship repaired with garbage can lids and Pepsi cola for fuel, naked as a jaybird. Whooosh the end!