Movie Review: Flight of the Navigator (1986)

Synopsis: In 1978, 12-year-old Florida resident David Freeman is sent to escort his 8-year-old brother, Jeff, home from a friend's house and ends up falling into a ravine. He climbs out a few hours later and discovers, while he hasn't aged, it is now 1986. He has no memory of the last 8 years, but a team of NASA scientists believe his mystery is somehow connected to an alien spacecraft that crashed at the same time he reappeared and convince David to let them study him. Only he doesn't stay on the base, he instead reconnects with the alien that abducted him for study 8 years earlier and is now looking for star chart information implanted in David's brain.

Who's in it? The movie stars Joey Craemer, Paul Reubens (under the alias Paul Mall), Cliff De Young, Veronica Cartwright and Sarah Jessica Parker.


Review: My wife picked out some movie options for our family movie night and, since my daughter had some homework, and this film had a reasonable runtime, it ended up being the choice. Both of us have seen this movie before, though I haven't seen it since I was about David Freeman's (Craemer) age in the film. It ended up being better than I remembered.

I think the thing that impressed me most about this movie was how David was portrayed. Being a Disney/family movie, I was expecting it to be upbeat and a bit silly (which is eventually the case). But early on at least, the mystery surrounding David's disappearance along with a very realistic portrayal of fear I would expect anyone to feel if they had an 8-year gap in their memory and a team of scientists probing their brain was surprisingly intense.

Even when David is first reintroduced to the alien, Max (voiced by Reubens), there is some uncertainty about that relationship. All we know about the robotic character is he abducted David and was now looking to use him for information. Neither of those screamed "this is one of the good guys!"

I also found I was intrigued by just how the movie was going to end. Max claimed he couldn't return David back to his own time because time travel would be deadly to humans. However, leaving him in 1986 also had plenty of complications, including the fact David would spend the rest of his life as a human lab rat.

As I mentioned before, there are some silly moments in this film as well and, to be honest I wasn't a huge fan of some of those, mostly because they seemed more like they were designed more to fill time than add anything to the actual plot. In fact, if the movie hadn't spent so much time on that and focusing on David trying to get back home to Fort Lauderdale, I'm not so certain this movie would have even been an hour long. 

Oh, and let's not forget the puppet aliens. Nothing says "1980s movie" more than that. Not really a complaint because I like puppets, I'm just not sure it was necessary when the movie was doing just fine without that element.

Final Opinion: I didn't like everything about this movie but still enjoyed watching it again. Some things are a little dated but it's still a fun family movie if you're looking for a classic.

My Grade: A-

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