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The Independent Critic

Teo Halm, Brian "Astro" Bradley, Reese C. Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt, Sonya Leslie-Shepherd, Kerry O'Malley, Jason Gray-Stanford, Cassius Willis
Dave Green
Andrew Panay, Henry Gayden
Rated PG
91 Mins.
Relativity Media

 "Earth to Echo" Feels Like "E.T." Minus the Wonder 
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With hints of E.T. and Super 8 but a lesser film than both of those films, Dave Green's Earth to Echo is a pleasant enough family film to have decent box-office prospects opening up on the Fourth of July weekend opposite an R-rated comedy, Tammy, and the latest exorcism-themed horror flick, Deliver Us From Evil. While its long-term box-office prospects are likely modest at best, distributor Relativity Media is known for putting out moderately budgeted films that have a decent shot at making their budget back with a decent opening.

While the film may not live up to the films it will inevitably remind you of, that doesn't mean that it's a waste of your time. Earth to Echo has a definite retro feeling a better, though it's hard not to watch it without noticing that it does lack that sense of innocence and wonder so easily found in films like E.T., Super 8, and The Goonies. Despite having a leading cast of unknowns, Earth to Echo has a terrific cast with a sincere and believable chemistry.

Earth to Echo centers around three young boys in their early teens - Munch (Reese C. Hartwig) is the fat kid whose a bit odd, yet his friends clearly "get" him and he's clearly comfortable in this trio. Alex (Teo Halm) seems rather well adjusted as the "cool kid" of the bunch with solid looks and a winning smile, but he's also a foster kid whose past has left him with attachment issues. Finally, Tuck (Brian "Astro" Bradley) is the adventurous one and one might argue the chief source of the film's inspiration and emotional resonance. Eventually, the boys will be joined by a girl (Ella Wahlestedt), though her appearance has a rather sloppy introduction and never really gives the film what it should through no fault of Wahlestedt. 

The leading trio, in particular, possesses the kind of winning chemistry that is necessary in a film such as this one and it's that chemistry that makes the film fun and "feel good" even when the script disappoints. The boys learn that their neighborhood is about to be bulldozed to make way for a freeway, a fact that leaves them with only hours before they will be forced to move. The boys, all in their early-mid teens, realize that this may very well be the end of the road for these three musketeers and set out to have a seriously grand adventure. While out on their adventure, they come across an injured alien, and a friendly one at that, who needs help to get back home.

Is there really any doubt?

Earth to Echo not so surprisingly has a feel to it of a retro-styled Disney flick since it was, in fact, produced by Disney. Disney ended up selling distribution rights to Relativity Media. I will confess that I even entered the theater believing this was a Disney film and actually found myself surprised when I finally realized it was distributed under Relativity Media.

Earth to Echo, while lacking the sense of innocence of wonder possessed by many of its predecessors, still does possess a warmth and goodness about it along with a script that explores such themes as friendship and even home. While it's doubtful that the film will stay with you long after the closing credits have rolled, for families looking for an entertaining film for the entire family this holiday weekend it's a choice you won't likely regret.

Written by Richard Propes 
The Independent Critic