Here is a movie that is akin to E.T. and yet original in several ways. Elijah is a young man who learned a lot about stars, nebulas and the solar system from his father. But not far into the movie we learn that his father has died, and yet his interest in science and the solar system remains strong except it is painful for him. Ben Naugler plays Elijah, and he’s quite good in the role. In fact, the ensemble of actors all do a terrific job including Allie Dunbar as his mom, Carolyn, Jesse Wheeler as his Uncle Jamie, and Thompson Duff as the large-eyed Eltanin, the rock creature that meets Elijah. Duff’s large, dark eyes gives the rock creature a unique appearance.
Written and directed by Jen Walden, this earthling meets alien story is nicely portrayed, partly due to the chemistry between Duff as Eltanin, and Naugler as Elijah.
The music is also nicely orchestrated, always suiting the mood of the story, and its dramatic opening score is sweeping appropriately sets the atmosphere for things to come. In the opening sequence Elijah’s dad is sharing his knowledge of the stars with his son. “Dad, do you know all the stars in the sky?” asks Elijah. “Most of them,” his dad replies. “At least the ones we can see from here.” “How?” asks Elijah. “I started out by learning the names of the constellations,” his father replies. “Then, little by little, I learned each star that was within them.” Elijah asks his dad why he likes the stars so much. “Because they tell me where we are,” he replies. Elijah wants to know where they’re going. “Fishing!” his dad replies, and off they go.
Elijah also has a nice relationship with his mother. He is with his mother who is working on her flowers outside. “Mom, when I grow up, could I still live with you?” “You could,” she smiles. “But most kids don’t want to live with their parents when they’re grown up.” “Can I still come over for sleepovers?” Elijah asks. “Of course!” she replies. Mom goes on to tell him that an invisible string connects the two of them together. “How do you know if you can’t see it?” he asks. “Because I can feel it,” his mother replies.
A while later, Elijah is separated from his mother during a family camping trip. While she becomes frantic, calling his name and searching for him, she also reads an entry from Elijah’s journal: “I wish my mom wouldn’t be afraid.” But having lost her husband and Elijah’s dad in a fire, Mom is determined to find her son.
Enter Eltanin, the rock creature. He’s a rock creature with a face-eyes, nose, and mouth. And he talks! The costume that actor Duff wears is quite good. Eltanin is shaped like a man and can move. In fact, he can speed up and move quickly when he needs to. “What are you?” asks Elijah. “What are you?” asks Eltanin. “I’m a boy,” Elijah replies. We learn that Eltanin has been separated from his mother too. He tells Elijah his mother is bigger than him. Elijah tells him that his mom once read a story to him about a statue that had a mom that was a mountain. But she could still feel his heart.
Eltanin and Elijah become good friends, and talk and wander through the very scenic woods, and they even play hide and seek! Eltanin shares he is from near Polaris, a star, and wants to find his way home. In the meantime, Carolyn (Elijah’s mom) is frantically searching for him. Eltanin shares his was from a large family and got angry with his mom and left. “I’m not lost!” he says in anger. Elijah decides that Earth, when compared to space, isn’t all that large. IN a touching scene, Elijah’s mom cries as she becomes desperate to find her son.
The movie features some important themes, including the idea of getting past misunderstandings. Elijah and Eltanin have one but make peace with each other shortly after. When they speak of Elijah’s dad, Eltanin asks, “Where is your dad now?” “My mom says when someone dies, they go to the stars,” he replies. There are humorous moments too. It seems Eltanin has been on Earth for 4,000 years. Elijah wonders why so long. “I told you, I took a nap!” replies Eltanin. Elijah has suffered from nightmares but in a touching scene he is told he has the power to change his nightmares. Will Mom find Elijah? What happens to Eltanin? Do Elijah’s nightmares dating back to the fire that claimed his dad’s life finally come to an end?
This movie is, at times, a very innocent and sweet story of two unlikely characters becoming friends. It relies a lot on pure imagination. It does contain two uses of the “H” word, which means it has earned our Dove seal for Ages 12+.
The Dove Take
This movie is a wonderful mixture of imagination, a great musical score, solid acting, and the power of friendship.