Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Retro Review: Flight of the Navigator

Great minds think alike indeed. Yesterday Geof at Enter The Man-Cave posted a retro review, (very excellent and you should read it HERE after you've finished with this) and today I'm posting one.

I thought it would be fun to take something I remember from whenever, discuss what I thought of it then, and see how it holds up with the passage of time.

This Week's Retro Review:

Flight of the Navigator

Flight of the Navigator (1986)


When I was 6 this was my favorite movie. I had a copy that my sisters had recorded off the Disney channel for me. Whenever I would travel between Canada and the US, I would pack a small amount of toys, my clothes, and this movie. At first I called it 'Flight of the Alligator.' How adorable is that? Not really? Eh, well.

I loved the time travel aspect, odd creatures, and of course Max the robotic floating head thing that was part of the ship. Max played by Paul Reubens was new and fresh to me (I wasn't allowed to watch Pee-wee Herman as my mother thought he looked like a perv). Mostly I loved being swept up in the adventure.

I showed Flight to my friends. Some loved it, some sucked. I remember walking down the road in the quiet town of Cold Springs, Ontario to where a girl from my kindergarten class lived. The house was known on the street as 'the white house.' Not because it bore any resemblance to the white house, but because us kids, not being particularly clever, dubbed it that based on the color.

The little girl who lived there loved the film. She also loved me and tried to lock me in a room so she could keep me. When that didn't work she punched me in the eye. Thus you can see how my effect on the opposite sex began at an early age. No? Eh, well. Truthfully she was a little nut bag who eventually moved to Calgary, never to be heard from again. Afterwards her family was replaced by a quiet guy who tried to run my brother and I over with his car. But I digress...

The point is, I thought it was the best movie when I was 6. Solid 100 out of 10. So how about now?

Surprisingly, I no longer find it to be the greatest movie. It did hold up better than I thought. One must always make some allowances when critiquing a kid's film. Obviously the acting isn't great. No offense to Canadians, but young Canadian actors are incapable of playing things neutral. It makes the whole thing feel Canadian. Something I can't pretend is great when discussing production quality.

The writing is a little simple, but it doesn't dumb down for kids. That's a big credit. The effects are dated, but not bad for the time they come from. The humor is still funny all these years later, even if there are several cringe moments, where I can remember quoting along.

"Navigator, I do not leak, you leak, remember?"

It's hard for a movie to live up to the standards set as a kid, and this movie is no exception. It's tarnished by time same as any other. And while it doesn't change how I felt about it then, it does leave me with another of those, "was I drunk as a child?" moments.

All in all in retrospect I give it a 6 out of 10.

I should also note that 'Flight' is currently in the remake machine. I'm not as set against remakes as so many are. Remakes don't hurt the originals, if they're bad, and if they're actually good... sweet. That said, after watching the abysmal remake of 'Escape to Witch Mountain' I have my doubts about this ending well.


  1. Oh how I loved this movie! Every now and again I catch it on TV and I love it all over again. Thanks for posting:)

  2. Geez I saw this when it first came out on VHS, and that was the last time. What was the flick in the swamp where the kid thinks theres a dinosaur but it turns out to be a crane covered in seaweed?

  3. Lisa, I still watch it. I can't help it. lol

    Carl, You asked the right person. It's an Australian film called 'The Quest' here in the US and 'Frog Dreaming' elsewhere. I loved that movie.

  4. Wow, your mom is good, called Pee Wee out that early huh?

    I never saw this movie but my "Flight" was definitely "Labyrinth" with Davide Bowie and a young Jennifer Connelly. I have it on DVD and still watch it on occasion. Still just as good. You can't argument with with Jim Henson muppets and David Bowie in pleather pants and a mullet.

  5. Erika, I loved labyrinth when I was little. Crazy fun.

    Ally, I don't know, it's really an excellent flick.

  6. I LOVED this movie!! I just watched a few years ago and still thought it was cool, signifying a classic movie for me!

    Awesome post friend!

  7. So your mom called out Pee Wee before the theater incident? That's crazy!

    There a new Pee Wee Live show that I really want to see! All of the reviews are amazing....

    I loved 'Flight of the Navigator' too! I'm going to rent it this weekend.... I always thought the ship looked like a big shiny nerf spiral football.

    Did you add any points for the nostalgia factor?

  8. Kato, thanks. Definitely classic.

    Asblack, No I tried to make it free of nostalgia bias on this one. Otherwise I would have rated it higher.

    I'm with you on the ship looking like a Nerf football.

  9. I remember watching this when I was a tyke, and thought it was cool. I do remember the "leak" transaction and what the ship looked like, but I had no idea that Reubens did the voice.

    And thanks for the shout out. Great review!

  10. A testament to your humor - I hadn't seen/heard of this movie but the review cracked me up.

    Especially the 'was I drunk as a child' line ...

    Makes me think of Eddie Izzard's DVD 'Dressed to Kill' which I highly recommend if you (or anyone here) hasn't seen it.


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