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Nostalgia. It powers our TV shows. It lures us back to movie theaters. It even can be funneled into Thanksgiving Day commercials! That what Xfinity is leaning into, as they just reunited E.T. and Elliott (Henry Thomas) for a touching holiday commercial that brings the alien up to speed on technology, and solidifies the notion of family. Check it out right now, and have tissues handy.
OK, so, yes. This is a commercial for a cable company. Xfinity is the trade name for Comcast Cable Communications, so the return of E.T. is being used to sell people on more media, and advancements in our digital ways since the adorable alien last hid out on our planet after his people left him behind.
But once John Williams’ signature score for Steven Spielberg’s masterful E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial kicks in, I stop caring about WHY these two childhood icons are back together, and just start enjoying their reunion. As Henry Thomas says to his alien cohort, a lot has changed since last he was on this planet, and we feel the weight of the time that separated them. Yes, technology changed. But Elliott also went and had kids of his own. Speaking about the commercial, in quotes provided by Xfinity, Henry Thomas elaborated:
The audience is going to get everything they want out of a sequel without the messy bits that could destroy the beauty of the original and the special place it has in people’s minds and hearts. It’s really a win-win. ... Looking at the storyboards, I could see exactly why Steven (Spielberg) was really behind it, because the integrity of the story isn’t lost in this retelling.
Couldn’t they get Drew Barrymore back for this?! She can’t be too busy.
The commercial goes through some of the most familiar beats from E.T. Flowers come back to life when the alien is nearby. He crams Reese’s Pieces into his mouth (they probably don’t sell them where he’s from), and he eventually has to give Elliott’s children a bicycle ride in front of a full moon. It all builds to a farewell that was pretty damn emotional, even if it can’t quite hold a candle to the most emotional ending of any Spielberg movie.
You know, this is the way that E.T. should come back. Yes, it’s a little crass to use him in a holiday commercial. But now that I’ve seen it, I’d prefer this to the long-gestating E.T. feature-length sequel that never got off of the ground. From what we understand, there was a 10-page script treatment for a story that would have been called E.T. 2: Nocturnal Fears. It would have been a horror movie, where evil aliens arrive on Earth responding to E.T.’s distress signals, because they don’t know that he has left.
But Steven Spielberg was hesitant to steal from the magic of the original movie, so he turned it down. Yet another reason for us to be thankful on this Thanksgiving Day!