Two creative geniuses coming together to make a movie for children of the 80s. Spielberg and Lucas? Nope, but half right. Spielberg and JJ Abrams. Super 8 recently landed on Netflix and I have to say, for many reasons this movie is my childhood encapsulated.
First, no, I never ran into an alien as a kid (that I know of…some of my teachers might have been from other planets…). I also never made a movie with a bunch of friends. What I do share in common with the film is that I am from the area of Ohio where the movie is set. Granted, they filmed in West Virginia, so the terrain is a bit more hilly than Ohio, but it still looks about right, right down to the town watertower. My home town is, in fact, just on the opposite side of Dayton from where the fictional Lillian is located. It had about the same population (a little less, perhaps) and was similar in a lot of ways. No town police – the Sheriff was the law in town. The bicycles all parked in metal racks outside the school. The kids wearing awful clothes…
Technically speaking the kids in Super 8 are a little older than I would have been in 1979. They look to be about 10-12, I would have been about 5-6, but there’s so much there that is memorable to me. You’d think the movie was filmed in the early 80s, even with the incredible effects. Only the alien’s more “modern” appearance throws it off, but this is made up for by the “cosmic rubik’s cubes”. Of COURSE a space ship in the late 70s/early 80s would be made of rubik’s cubes!
There’s more than just the setting that pulls at me, however. The big kid who also likes the girl. The spaz who loves firecrackers. The kid who always follows the rules. They all feel like people I knew growing up.
I’ve heard people describe Super 8 as a new version of the Goonies. In some ways, that’s correct. To me, however, it’s like a love note from my past, reminding me of days when you worried more about who got first-ups in a pick-up game of baseball than if you’re putting enough into your 401K.
If you haven’t seen the movie, go watch it. It really is a great movie, and deserves a lot more credit than it’s gotten. Also, Elle Fanning is a remarkable young actress and I’ll be honest, she puts her older sister to shame in this movie. Oh, and watch to the end of the credits – you get to see the movie the kids were making. It’s horrible, of course, but at the same time it’s cute and corny…much like the real movie.