Sell out, it’s a term that’s thrown around a lot. Letting anything other than pure artistry influence your art is a cardinal sin. Yet like it or not, money makes art. In 1988 in a genius display of cross-promotion, Stewart Raffill managed to combine the titans of McDonald’s, Coca Cola, and E.T. to make a heart-warming film about friendship from another planet. A film about Mac and Me.
The film’s introduction shows off a mysterious brown planet being observed by a spacecraft. After a space probe inadvertently kidnaps a young alien and takes him to a government base on earth. The young alien escapes and stows away in a van, transporting Eric Cruise and his family to California. Eric soon discovers the alien and the two strike up a bond of friendship, but before too long government agents track the soon to be named MAC down. Now it’s up to the Cruises friends and family to help MAC, regardless of the cost.
It’s impressive that a film from 1988 would have a protagonist with a clear disability, when few films since then would. Eric is played by Jade Calegory who manages to really shine, especially considering his limited acting work previously. The nominal MAC is an alien with ingenuity and a preference for Coca Cola with a straw, (a practice that like the way MAC’s kind drinks on his home planet.) I like the look of the new planet that MAC originates from, and the design of MAC, he’s kooky and cute and the same time, and seeing him and his fellow aliens in costumes, and contraptions (like an R.C. car) is a real treat. Mac and Eric make a strong team. But the film has a strong relationship with the other Cruise members, particularly single mother Janet, played by the great Christine Ebersole.
The film strikes a good balance between the respective emotions you would expect a kid’s film to elicit. The full emotion gamut is explored with the family’s relationship with MAC, Jokes, friendship, some heart-breaking moments. This is partly due to the incredibly varied soundtrack, form dance numbers at a local McDonalds, to power ballads during a training montage. And the remaining score is by Alan Silvestri serves as a signature for both the film and the decade.
Mac and Me has a lot of heart, as well as a lot of fun packed into its runtime. Like in a McDonald’s, people of all ages are going to have a good time, with a wide variety on the menu, good drama, fun soundtrack, some strong acting and many more. If this film is just a cynical ploy, I’m going to have to agree with Gordon Gecko about the benefits of greed.
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