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By Keith Simanton

It's only in retrospect that one can see that Joe Dante's Explorers is an awful lot like Robert Zemeckis's Contact. An alien race, determined to make contact with earthlings, feeds some unsuspecting individuals the blueprints for space travel. Instead of the big gyroscope that Jodie Foster was strapped into in Contact, the three kids in Explorers make their intergalactic trip in crystalline blue Flubber. River Phoenix looks shockingly prepubescent (which he was) as Wolfgang, the brains of the trio, while Ethan Hawke looks like a young lady-killer as Ben. Fitting into the "whatever happened to?" category is Jason Presson as Darren, an outcast who joins the two eggheads. Joe Dante's career, cruising after Gremlins was a smash, faced a serious "hitch in the giddyup" when this film sputtered through the 1985 summer season without much of an impact. The effects still hold up nicely, as does Dante's incessant need to pay homage to other, older sci-fi films. The whole thing seems like a lot of trouble for some smackingly bland and silly results, but it's a harmless, initially involving diversion.


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Buy this VHS movie from! (Click here!)DVD unavailableBuy this soundtrack from! (Click here!)Rated PGNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Joe Dante

Stars: Ethan Hawke, River Phoenix, Jason Presson, Amanda Peterson, Dick Miller, Robert Picardo, Dana Ivey, Meshach Taylor, Mary Kay Place

Released: July 12, 1985

Availability: VHS CD

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