What is Earth to Echo about? Plans to build a freeway threaten to destroy the neighborhood of three best friends. For the boys it’s the end of an era, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary…until their smart phones begin acting up inexplicably and showing static. One of the phones ultimately reveals a map that beckons them to follow it. Knowing it is their last night together, the boys determine to follow the map and solve its mystery, with other worldly consequences.
Is it worth the price of admission? Yes: Earth to Echo is a surprisingly entertaining family film that pays homage to classic adventure films of the 1980s. On the one hand, the film, in exploring the friendship of three young boys on a daring escapade, is a lot like Goonies. It’s even more like E.T. in that the boys befriend a lovable little alien they nickname Echo, who just wants to go home.
What’s to love? The low budget movie does a really nice job of believably developing these boys and their likable, and very different, personalities. The boys are underdogs, not part of the “in” crowd, but that makes them relatable. They follow their passions, and that’s at the heart of their amazing journey. Tuck, the perpetual videographer and Youtuber (played by the young rapper Astro), computer geek Munch (Reese Hardwick), and Alex (Teo Halm), capture the spirit of the new post-millennial generation, where technology is so integral to their world.
What’s not to love? It’s always a challenge to shoot in the “found footage” style. The director, Dave Green, wanted to give us the sense that the movie was being shot by the boys themselves, on cell phones, camcorders, a bike cam, and even spyglasses. The approach gives it a distinctly contemporary feel, but the change in shooting styles can at times be distracting.
Also, Ella Wahlestedt’s character Emma feels like an after thought. While it’s important that a girl was included in the journey, and she is given the opportunity to express her feisty personality, she nevertheless is an outsider to the main group. She doesn’t really get much of a chance to contribute to the journey, and too often seems like “eye candy,” a pretty girl added to scenes simply because she’s pretty.
Is there anything parents should be concerned about? Overall, Earth to Echo is very family friendly film, and has even been approved by the Dove Foundation, which puts its seal of approval on the best family films. There is mildly offensive language (“cr-p”), and a scene where the kids walk into a bar AND a party, but even these are worthy of the PG rating. I am recommending it for ages 7 and up.