Netflix Daily Pick: Little Alien Robots in ‘Batteries Not Included’ (1987)

A charming family film about helpful aliens is perfect for your Netflix queue.

Batteries Not Included (often seen as *batteries not included) is a 1987 sci-fi adventure about an apartment block where tenants seek the aid of alien mechanical life-forms to save their building from demolition.

Today’s Netflix Daily Pick is a classic Steven Spielberg-produced 80s film that combines the heart of his family dramas with the science fiction of his most acclaimed films. Directed by Matthew Robbins, whose previous Dragonslayer is one of the greatest dragon movies ever, Batteries Not Included might be a far departure from that fantasy, it is nonetheless a great bit of entertainment. Earnest, and featuring an elderly cast that are not depicted as a burden, this has lots of great humor, making it one to watch. Here’s why.

THE STORY: Greedy landowners have never had a good light shined on them at the movies, and that doesn’t change here when an evil developer looks to clear a small apartment building with an attached café. Sending in thugs and hoodlums to scare and rile the tenants out very nearly works until small flying space ships arrive and take to repairing the damage. Dubbed “The Fix-Its” by the tenants, they become inspired and the nasty developer now has a much bigger (smaller?) problem on his hands. Guess who wins.

Batteries Not included
Batteries Not included, 1987 © Universal Pictures

WHY TO WATCH: Well right away, it stars Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy so there’s that, who both give touching performances as an elderly couple in the building. It’s so great to see Hollywood embrace elder actors in roles that are no cliché-ridden as so many are. Never ridiculed or seen as a cumbersome couple, they are the stars and carry the film. Why doesn’t this happen more often?

The movie was initially intended to be an episode on Spielberg’s Amazing Stories television series, but he liked the idea so much, it went to the big screen. It has his signature all over it and even though it’s directed by a pretty good talent all his own, is clearly a Spielbergian experience. It helps too, that is was written by Brad Bird in his first screenplay who you’ll know, went on to make The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and of course, the Tom Cruise film, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

Batteries Not included
Batteries Not included, 1987 © Universal Pictures

If you’re looking for a good family film or a look at one of the more innovate space alien movies ever made, you can’t beat *batteries not included, a pleasant, fun adventure with plenty of spirit. Streaming now on Netflix, this is one to add to your queue.