Overall Kid Focused grade: B-
Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes
Three childhood friends Tuck, Alex, and Munch are on a mission to save their suburban neighborhood from having a freeway built through it in Earth to Echo. On the last night before demolition begins and their families are set to move, the middle schoolers act on the cryptic maps that have been taking over their phones by embarking on an all-night adventure to find out if they have any merit. They soon discover a lost alien named Echo and find themselves fighting for much more than their homes and personal security, but for Echo’s well-being.
Earth to Echo has a coming-of-age, band of brothers plot we’ve seen many times before. The bantering and tight bonds are reminiscent of Stand By Me. The early-teen humor and guffaws are like Goonies. Most viewers old enough will think of E.T. And while the plot has elements of E.T. there’s too much technology talk and not as much lighthearted fun with Echo as there was with E.T., which targets Earth to Echo audiences to kids at least 10 and older.
Kid Focused grades for Earth to Echo
Compelling story line: B
Like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the trio of friends set off on an adventure together. As the answer to the maps unfolds, they share many experiences. The film being shot like a video diary will appeal to Millennials. Still, too much tech-talk muddies the plot. “It was boring,” said my 8 and 6-year-old daughters.
Strong message: B
The kids dupe their parents into sneaking out, which is a running joke throughout the movie. The adults are depicted as negligent at best.
Families can talk about compromise, the role technology plays in our lives and how it helps/ hinder it, as well as discuss whether life could exist outside Earth.
Leading character is a role model: A
Alex lives in foster homes, Tuck’s parents don’t pay much attention to him and Munch is nerdy, but has a heart of gold. The three friends are all quirky outcasts in their own ways, yet they have strong, loyal bonds with each other. “I’ll always have your back; I’ll never let you down,” Tuck tells Alex at one point, which is reflective of their actions throughout. The boys are just as loyal to their mission and to Echo.
Sexual or adult content: C
Tuck lies about kissing a girl throughout. He says spy glasses will get the girls .
One character jokes, “I’m sleeping in your Mom’s bed.”
In one scene the youths attend a high school party where kids are drinking out of red cups and some are acting drunk. Tuck’s brother is passed out in the bathtub, presumably drunk.
A girl joins the group and in an awkward moment lies and says one of the boys is her boyfriend.
Language and Violence: B-
The shaky, video diary cinematography and music can be spooky at times. The word “crap” is used several times throughout. The villain isn’t overly scary.
Overall Kid Focused Grade for Earth to Echo: B-