*batteries not included Reviews
Frank and Faye Riley (Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy), have managed apartment building operated a café in the East Village for as long as anyone can remember. During better days the neighborhood had been a solid working class community which they so many of a New York City have become dilapidated. Lacey (Michael Greene), the manager of a property development company, has set his eyes on that area but the one holdout are Frank and Faye. Lacey dispatches a particular sinister street gang led by Carlos (Michael Carmine) asking them to convince the tenants of the apartment house to move out using means necessary. After a meager attempted at bribery fails Carlos and his gang move on to their more preferred method of persuasion. The punch through the door to the apartment occupied by Mason Baylor's (Dennis Boutsikaris), a burgeoning artist his girlfriend. To demonstrate just how despicable these hoodlums are the threatened the young, single pregnant woman Marisa Esteval (Elizabeth Peńa) and smashing the prize possession of a retired boxer, Harry Knoble's (Frank McRae), the jar holding his collection of tiles. The attack does have limited success. Mason's girlfriend breaks up with him setting that she is sick and tired of living in such a rundown building and that he should go and get a real job instead of pretending to be an artist. Friends of the Riley's, Sid (Tom Aldredge) and Muriel (Jane Hoffman) Hogenson sufficiently frightened to take the bride and reluctantly leave. They explained to their longtime friends that enable just doesn't feel like home anymore advise them to do the same encumber them to a nice retirement community in New Jersey.
In the aftermath of the violence, Marissa and Mason begin to draw closer. She appreciates his art and encourages them to continue and opens up to him how a boyfriend, Hector (Charles Raymond), a musician, left her after his band received a job offer in Chicago. Frank can bring himself to leave because they has dementia living in the past with their deceased son is still alive. This is the only place that's familiar to the living there so long together, he cannot bear to rip for away. Just as things most hopeless window inadvertently left open allows the entry of extraterrestrial robots that are a live and able to repair all the damage of anything they find broken. The extent of their repairs is almost magical bringing it back to its brand-new state. The repair the damage of the café inflicted on by the folks bringing it back to how it looked when first opened. After boiling off the subsequent attack by the box the turns out that one of the robots is 'pregnant', and begins to consume anything metallic or electronic in nature. Eventually three new aliens are born but one of them appears to be stillborn. Faye lovingly buries it but Frank retrieves it and by taking part of his most beloved possession, is television set, he manages to bring it back to life.
No synopsis could properly convey the emotional depth of this story. While most people focus on the altruistic nature of the robots human kindness extended to them by Frank and Faye is crucial to the overall tone of the movie. Even in her state of dementia or Faye never lost an iota of her compassion, a quality she loving shared with her husband for many decades. In real life Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy were married for 70 years the chemistry they brought to the screen was exceptionally real and nurtured over a lifetime. When Frank sacrificed one object he treasured in order to bring the little alien back to life he demonstrated a capacity for sacrifice that stood in sharp contrast to the avarice of the developer. It deep in the channel of communication between the aliens and the human tenants, they both have a need to fix that which is broken.
This gentle story exhibits all the basic trappings of Steven Spielberg, who did serve as the executive producer. There is a childlike dichotomy between good and evil, a solid line defining them nit requiring shades of grey. The gang members threaten a helpless pregnant woman yet a frail, elderly man is willing to make a personal sacrifice to an infant alien robot. The robots exhibit the best of humanity, something shared with the tenants while the developer, and by extension, his henchmen, showcase the most heinous. This is a morality play modernized to fit the sensibilities of a techno-centric culture. For those of us that remember when a café or soda fountain was the center of a neighborhood's societal identity it is easier to understand why the reinvigoration of the café is of such a huge importance, it ignited a long lost spark of hope. To have this film remastered in high definition reflects a similar sense of happiness in the longtime fans of this film. This is a movie that is frequently underestimated by those approaching it as part of the critical community. This is something created to reach out to people on a purely emotional basis and to that end is succeeds.