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Earth to Echo | 2014 | PG | - 1.3.4

The lives of three boys (Brian "Astro" Bradley, Reese Hartwig and Teo Halm) implode when a highway development begins to demolish their Nevada homes. They pack up for separate lives elsewhere, but just before moving they begin receiving cryptic distress signals on their cell phones and convinced that the highway construction is a government cover-up, the boys ask their friend (Ella Wahlestedt) to join them as they hunt down the origin of the signals. Also with Jason Gray-Stanford and Cassius Willis. Directed by Dave Green. [1:29]

SEX/NUDITY 1 - A man and a woman kiss briefly while sitting in a bar. A teen girl tells adults that a teen is her boyfriend and holds hands with him. A middle school aged boy asks a girl in the lunchroom for her phone number, but she refuses. A teen boy and a teen girl fall to a floor in a ground tremor, looking as if they are hugging.
 A boy says that another boy and a girl at school are kissing buddies (we see no kissing). One boy asks another boy if he kissed a girl and if his knees went wobbly. A boy's email message title states, "Nevada needs more girls." A boy tells male friends, "Spy glasses get you girls." A boy tells male friends that he likes mannequin girls (who wear expensive clothes) and says that mannequins are cool. A boy asks the audience in a voiceover, "Is Munch [a boy] really a woman?" A boy says that people tell him that he sounds like his mother on the phone; in a phone impersonation of her to her neighbor friend who wants to stop by, he tells the neighbor one night, "Maybe you and your husband should go to bed." A boy says that his mother is divorced and she's had enough guys lying to her.
 In a country/biker bar, a few women wear short skirts and low-cut blouses that reveal moderate cleavage, and most of their bare legs to the thighs.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 3 - The film is shot from the perspective of a young teenage boy who uses a camcorder and a smaller video camera on his bike handlebars, creating shaky and tilted scenes.
 Three boys receive snapping static and odd maps on their cell phone screens; one boy says that the phones are barfing and the boys bike 17 miles into the desert late at night where they hear electronic gurgling and snapping and find a charred foot-long cylinder embedded in the ground next to a transformer that beeps and snaps at them; a boy pounds the ground with the cylinder, saying that it is a bomb and that's what you do with bombs while his friends yell at him to stop (through some narrow openings in the cylinder we see a blue metal owlet-like creature with large, scratched neon-blue eyes). Three boys take an alien to a barn where metal parts from a tractor are pulled toward the container it is in and stick to it magnetically; lights spark and light bulb glass shatters loudly before they are able to learn that the alien does not eat humans, but someone shot down its spaceship and the alien needs more parts to fix it.
 We see on a monitor that someone is poking a thin metal probe into the head of a metal owlet-alien as it flaps its wings. In a junk yard, an alien seems to lose power and die, but its eyes flicker and metal parts from around the junkyard are pulled to the cylinder that is holding it; the cylinder becomes larger and four children grab it and run away while piles of scrap metal in the junk yard collapse and seem to melt.
 A man kidnaps three boys, a girl and a small alien from a diner at night and shoves them into the back of a van, but one boy escapes, jumping into the bed of a moving pickup truck where the boy uses his cell phone to leave a goodbye message for his friends while crying. Police officers search nearby roads looking for an alien as boys bike away from the spot where they have found the alien.
 Two boys fight in an alley at night, shouting, shoving and pushing each other up against a chain link fence, but no one is injured. We hear that an older girl used to beat up two boys on the playground until one of the boys told the girl that the other boy had Polio (he did not have it).
 At a government lab a boy cries while being interrogated by two adults: men bring his friends in and another man orders them to help him find an alien spaceship, pounding his hand on a table, yelling and threatening to disable it permanently; he says that if the ship takes off, it will kill everybody in a neighborhood. Teen and pre-teen boys become upset when they see construction crews digging into their neighborhood for a new highway that will demolish their block; they try to talk to the project foreman, but are sent away. A teen girl argues loudly with her parents concerning a dress that she will wear to Homecoming in three years and she screams and goes to her room. Police officers show up at a house to tell the occupants to turn down loud music and we see college-aged attendees run out the back.
 A middle school-aged boy with two young passengers drives a car erratically, crashing into large plastic trashcans, but injuring no one and continuing along a highway; the kids in the car switch to a pickup truck they take from a junkyard before rescuing another boy and a small alien creature; they drive fast down a highway, nearly hitting two semi-trucks and the alien uses magnetic power to separate the pieces of the trucks and reassemble them safely at a point down the road.
 Four middle school children take a small alien to a housing development, where it buries itself deep in the ground in a backyard; the kids climb down the hole as well and find a metal room glowing with blue and white lights and see the alien beeping in a small cockpit using holographic charts and steering controls; the ground shudders before large metal pieces emerge through openings in the ground and assemble into a giant spaceship in the sky; the ship takes off with little noise or exhaust and adults wander out into the street to see what happened (one woman sees the ship and she staggers from the shock.
 Three boys enter an arcade that is closed for the night and the machines switch on by themselves; metal parts float out of the machines and are caught by a metal cylinder carried in a backpack before a security guard chases the boys, catches one of them and tells a police officer outside to take him away for felony charges. Three boys enter a pawnshop at night and something unseen screeches and shoots around the ceiling of the shop, melting a French horn and some electric guitars before finally knocking down one of the boys (he's OK); the boys rush out of the shop, apologizing to the owner. Thunder sounds inside a biker bar and something unseen flies around the ceiling, sparking lights and causing glasses to crash to the floor, shattering (no one is hurt); three boys run out of the bar (please see the Substance Use category for more details). In a girl's bedroom at night, a small jewelry box shakes before a spark hits it and pillow feathers fly in front of the camera; the girl and three boys argue, but she eventually agrees to join them on a bike trip. Two boys and a girl rescue another boy held by police by having an alien create earthquake tremors to distract the officer. After end credits, a cell phone beside a boy's bed snaps, pops and rings, presumably with a message signal from an alien to say "hello."
 A 13-year-old boy's room is full of electronic parts, computers and DVD cases, with little room to walk and these items also hide his bed. A friend sneaks in to a boy's cluttered room and scares him, then suggests that he is a hoarder, but the boy denies it.
 A boy tells his friends that they all smell bad while they hug goodbye on moving day.


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LANGUAGE 4 - 9 scatological terms, 1 anatomical term, 5 mild obscenities (including "What the F" [only the F is pronounced]), name-calling (crazy, insane, bananas, stupid, clowns, weird, weirdo, sell out, natty-homey, drifter, baby, hoarder, creepy, mopey), stereotypical references to pre-teens, teenagers, parents, authority figures, police officers, government scientists, foster children, space aliens, construction crews, the rich, exclamations (Shoot, Oh My Gosh, Shut-up), 10 religious exclamations (e.g. Oh My God, Oh God).


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SUBSTANCE USE - A teenaged boy says, "I need an Advil." Three boys enter a bar and we see bottles of beer and glasses full of whiskey on the bar and on nearby tables (no one is shown drinking), an adult in a bar orders three boys non-alcoholic Shirley Temple drinks that arrive in tumblers and the boys drink from them, a girl tells a man that her mother used to drag her father out of a bar every night and cry and cry, and college-aged party goers hold red cups that indicate alcohol (no one drinks).


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Friendship, loyalty, compassion, fairness, respect, government cover-ups, life on other planets, aggression, xenophobia, hoarding, foster care.

MESSAGE - Kids can make a positive difference in the world.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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