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Flight Of The Navigator

Flight Of The Navigator

By Patrick Samuel • August 7th, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 4/5
Walt Disney Pictures

Original release: July 30th, 1986
Running time: 90 minutes

Director: Randal Kleiser
Writers: Michael Burton, Matt MacManus, Mark H. Baker
Composer: Alan Silvestri

Cast: Joey Cramer, Paul Reubens (voice), Veronica Cartwright, Cliff DeYoung, Sarah Jessica Parker, Howard Hesseman

Flight Of The Navigator

As a kid I had quite a few fun pastimes that ranged from hunting for buried treasure in my backyard to solving crime while wearing what I thought was a pretty cool superhero cape fashioned from an old bathroom towel. Yet the one which I never really grew out of was scanning the sky to see if I could spot any visitors from outer space. Just the idea that somewhere out there the greatest adventure in human history awaits was enough for me to never give up and movies such as E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), The Cat From Outer Space (1978) and Mac And Me (1988) fuelled that enthusiasm, as did this 1986 film.

Having first seen it a couple of years later on VHS at school, during one of those days when if you brought in $1 the teacher would wheel out that humongous TV set and VCR, make popcorn and sit us all down for a fun Friday afternoon, Flight Of The Navigator, with its story centred on a young boy who would go on to have the adventure I’d always dreamt of, would be no easy film for me to forget and has remained one of my favourite childhood films.

In the film we meet David Freeman (Joey Cramer). He’s 12 years old and lives with his mom Helen (Veronica Cartwright), his dad Bill Freeman (Cliff DeYoung) and his younger brother Jeff (Albie Whitaker). While walking Jeff home through the woods on the night of the 4th of July celebrations the brothers start hiding and chasing each other but then David falls into a ravine and is knocked unconscious. When he wakes he tries to find Jeff but he’s nowhere to be found and decides to walk home. Arriving at his house David finds another family living there and the concerned couple try to calm the distraught child. The police soon arrive and take him to his family – but they, like everyone else, have all aged by eight years while he’s remained a kid.

Flight Of The Navigator

We also learn about an extraterrestrial spacecraft that’s been retrieved by NASA agents, but being of superior technology no one’s able to get inside to take a look. It’s being kept at a base. While David’s put under observation at hospitable to try and determine why he hasn’t aged, people are curious as to where he’s been all this time, but when his brain tests reveal he can map accurate star charts, NASA quickly starts to take an interest in him. Realising there’s some connection between the boy and recently crashed spacecraft they convince his parents to let him stay at the base so they can find out more.

Of course, once there David feels more like a prisoner but a pretty intern named Carolyn (Sarah Jessica Parker) helps him escape and get back on board the spacecraft whose artificial intelligence pilot has been communicating telepathically with him. It’s from there the adventure really begins as we see David and the pilot, whom he’s named Max (voiced by Paul Reubens), taking off and leaving behind everything that seems so alien to him, including his mom, dad and a little brother who’s now older than him.

Max informs David that he’s the navigator of the spacecraft and as the boy gets to grips with this exciting technology he learns more about his pilot’s mission to collect biological specimens, and take them back to Phaelon, which is 560 light years from Earth, for analysis before returning them to their homes. Max also tells him that he Flight Of The Navigatordiscovered humans only use 10% of their brains so as an experiment he filled David’s mind with miscellaneous information, including star charts, but after the clumsy pilot crashed the spacecraft, wiping the computer’s database, he now needs the information in his brain to return home.

David however wants to return to his own time and even though Max tells him that time travel might be harmful for humans, they agree to help each other. Along the way they become great friends and David teaches him more about Earth. As Max downloads the information from David’s brain he also picks up quite a few of his traits, making him evolve into a much funnier and warmer character than when we first meet him. David also makes friends with one of the alien specimens Max collected, a small alien whose world was destroyed and who’s now the last of his kind.

Knowing that eventually he’ll have to part ways with Max doesn’t make Flight Of The Navigator any less enjoyable, after all sometimes it’s the journey that counts, but the film arrives at an ending that’s both fitting and heart-warming. As a film which uses the stranded extra-terrestrial formula that we saw in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, The Cat From Outer Space and Mac And Me and even later on in the hugely funny Paul (2011), it might not have aged very well but that part of me that’ll always remain a kid will never pass up the opportunity to hear Max say “See ya later, Navigator”!

Flight Of The Navigator

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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