Earlier this month I told you how excited my son and I were to be invited to see a screening of the film, Earth to Echo. (See it here, Our Summer Adventure is About to Begin.) The event was an amazing experience for both of us! It’s not often that I get a chance to bond with my fourteen year old son, Roman. This was the perfect opportunity. It was like a dream come true. It was an adventure to remember. Much like the film we were about to see, Earth to Echo. Relativity Media hosted us with a check in at Sweet! Hollywood where we received an official Earth to Echo Chocolate Bar for each of us. Their hospitality was stupendous and added to the excitement of the much anticipated events of seeing the movie, attending a press junket, and interviewing the filmmakers and cast. (Disclosure.) We went to the screening at the TCL Chinese 6 Theaters at Hollywood and Highland, with our popcorn and chocolate in hand. This is the home of the World Famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater. I had been there recently for a red carpet premier and now I was there with my son. It was so much fun! As I looked around the theater, I was happy to see so many children, mostly 5-10 years old, with their parents. Their hands full of candy and soda, I expected them to all be bouncing off the walls and then crashing from sugar highs by the time the movie started. I was sitting in front of a little girl who was a sweet as can be, but just the right size that I prepared myself to have the back of my chair kicked at least a few times. In front of us was a father with two little girls. They got up and moved around a lot while waiting for the movie to begin. Each time the dad sat down, he had to get up to help one of them or take them to the bathroom, to get popcorn, and then back to the counter again to get a left behind drink…I figured it would be that way through the entire movie. When the theater darkened and the the movie started, everyone clapped. The entire audience was hushed and focused on what we were about to see. No previews, no titles, the movie just began and for the next hour and a half we were all completely enthralled by the story, the characters, the action, the friendships, and most especially, the alien – Echo. All the kids stayed awake. I looked around and no one was bouncing off any of the walls. The back of my chair did not get kicked. The kids in front of us sat quietly, almost reverently. There was reaction from the audience, laughter, ahhs, ohhs, a few “oh my goshes,” and even some gasps. But not one kid cried or screamed or asked to go to the bathroom or even talked to each other. Why? Because it was that good.
Earth to Echo is a film about friendship, adjustment to change, facing fears, accepting responsibility, caring for others, making important decisions, and never giving up hope. There is a heartfelt and endearing message in this movie. It has been compared to and even promoted as being similar to E.T. the Extra Terrestrial. It is in many ways. All good. But, it stands on its own as an epic movie for the current generation. This is our kid’s “ET.” During the first 30 minutes or so of the movie, I was in parent mode. Honestly, I thought I would have some serious concerns about some of the risks these kids were taking and how they were handling things. It was completely from the teen-ager’s point of view. Sitting there with Roman, I was worried that if I said I liked it that he would think that meant I thought these actions were acceptable. Totally “mom thoughts” happening here. I began formulating questions in my mind to the producers and writers that I would be interviewing about this. What were they thinking? Then, something amazing happened. When Echo came into the story is when I think the transformation started. I began to see things through the characters eyes. And I mean that quite literally since much of the film is projected through hand held videography and cell phone footage (expertly crafted with camera work and CGI.) I really had the sense that I was on this journey with these kids. By the end of the film, I had been brought back to my childhood. I was cheering and crying for these kids, their families and completely excited about their discoveries. You will never forget the feeling in your chest when you heard “Turn On Your Heartlight.” You know what it means when someone says, “ET, phone home.” That’s how you will feel about this movie. That is how it can be compared to the iconic films of the eighties. It’s not the same story, but it has the same heart.
” Turn on your heartlight
Let it shine wherever you go
Let it make a happy glow
For all the world to see
Turn on your heartlight
In the middle of a young boy’s dream
Don’t wake me up too soon
Gonna take a ride across the moon
You and me” ~Neil Diamond
The thing is, when we watch movies from the eighties that we loved as young people, our kids get the message and find them sweet, but not in the same way. They have become outdated and we can’t help but say things like, “That was before we had cell phones.” It is time that our kids have a movie like ET or Stand By Me, that they can relate to in the age of technology. In Earth to Echo, the kids Skype chat, text, use GPS, and more than I even understand of the latest techno-stuff available. It seemed almost futuristic to me. I realized that all the kids in the audience related to these things because they have always had them. Like TV and typewriters for us, Global Internet and cell phone connectivity are standard in their lives.
Earth to Echo is not about technology. Earth to Echo is about relationships. It is about sticking together, never giving up, and making things happen. The excitement and thrill of the adventure that brought us to loving this story is reminiscent of how films used to be made and now, we have a generation of writers and directors paying homage to this kind of film-making. These are the storytellers. (Perhaps, re-tellers, but that is how stories become legendary, right?) I am trying not to spoil the movie for you by telling you any details. Just trust me on this. Everything about Earth to Echo – especially the beloved character of Echo himself, is not to be missed. You will love this movie. You will want to take Echo home. I can’t wait to see it again and again.
In my next post I will tell you about our Jr. Interviewing and Round Table Interview with the cast of Earth to Echo, it’s Director, Producer and Writers. Our Summer Adventure with Earth to Echo Continues…including an exclusive video interview of the cast by my son, Roman!