E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is one of the defining movies of the ‘80s, and widely regarded as some of Spielberg’s best work – quite right too we say! The tale of a young boy called Elliott, and his friendship with the diminutive, titular alien, is a heart-warming family tale. The reason E.T. has remained so popular over the years is because of the message at its core. A dull childhood, blighted by divorce and dislocation, transformed by the unlikeliest of friendships. If this ranks as one of the movies that defined your childhood (and it does for me), then you need to look for other movies like E.T. This is a list of some of the choices I found, that will give you at least part of that E.T. fix.
Best Movies Like E.T.
If you’re looking for movies like E.T., the principal thing to focus on here is going to be the emotion. This is a deeply personal and emotionally-charged film and one that illustrates the true meaning of friendship, familial bonds, and the battle against a malevolent government. Here is a list of some of the movies out there about close-encounters of the friendship kind!
Mac and Me (1988)
Made in the late-’80s, and designed to cash in on audiences still pining for the magic and nostalgia of E.T., Mac and Me follows an alien MAC, who escapes NASA testing, and befriends a young, wheelchair-bound kid called Eric. The movie is essentially E.T. mark 2 and makes no attempt to be anything else. However, it lacks the charm and wonder of the original and was derided by critics on release. In spite of this, it’s very kiddie-friendly, and, if you’re looking for a movie similar to E.T., this undiscovered sci-fi flick could become an unlikely favorite of yours.
Earth to Echo (2014)
I’ve got to admit, this charming film passed me by on its original release, but I’m glad I discovered it, because it’s heaps of fun, and really makes you feel like a kid again. The plot focuses on a group of kids who follow strange signals out to the desert and find an adorable little alien called Echo, who needs their help to get home. The movie is definitely influenced hugely by E.T, as well as other sci-fi fares too. I like the way they use found footage to add a more unique spin to things, and it’s certainly a breath of fresh air in the found footage genre. Overall, if you want to indulge in a movie similar to E.T., welcome to the best option you’ve never heard of.
Super 8 (2011)
This stellar offering from Star Wars director J.J. Abrams is the post-E.T. sci-fi/alien fare we were all waiting for. Think of it as a mixture between The Goonies, Stand By Me, and E.T. In the movie, a bunch of friends decide to make a film on an old Super 8 camera, only to discover extra-terrestrial life in the process. The only difference here is that the alien is anything but the cute and cuddly kind. Still, the scope and scale of the movie owes a lot to E.T., and children discovering new dimensions and new life in their world is also a hugely poignant theme too. This is definitely a movie you can put on and get nostalgic over, I still love watching it now, and would highly recommend it.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Before Spielberg made E.T., he made Close Encounters, which must rank as one of his most underrated works. This is kind of like the adult version of E.T., with Richard Dreyfuss struggling to get to the bottom of a series of alien abductions and make contact with the otherworldly beings. With some stunning visuals, and one of the most majestic and memorable endings in movie history, make this a flick to check out as soon as you can. I have no doubt that if you loved E.T., you will definitely dig Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
The Iron Giant (1999)
This late-’90 Brad Bird-helmed movie is a classic of animated film and tells the story of a young boy who befriends a giant robot alien and helps him try to escape government agents. All the hallmarks are there, and all the E.T. boxes are ticked. What made E.T. pack such a punch was the real emotional resonance the movie had, and The Iron Giant gets pretty close to that as well. This is one of the best movies like E.T. that has ever been made, and fans of Spielberg’s classic will certainly love this offering.
E.T. captured the hearts of millions of people upon its release and was a critical and commercial success. The emotion and beauty of the film are timeless, not to mention some wonderfully quotable lines. If you still miss our little pal from outer space as much as I do, these are for you. These movies all have similar themes and ideals, I hopefully these movies like E.T. will make you want to phone home!