Movie review: ‘Earth to Echo’ puts clever spin on alien adventure

First Published      Last Updated Jul 03 2014 02:57 pm

Pre-teens meet an alien in "Earth to Echo," a derivative yet serviceable kids' adventure movie.

Three boyhood pals — sullen foster child Alex (Teo Halm), video-obsessed Tuck (Brian "Astro" Bradley) and dorky Munch (Reese Hartwig) — are about to be separated when their Nevada subdivision gets paved over for a highway project. So, on their last night together, they go off for one last adventure, in pursuit of the mysterious signals that are affecting their cellphones.

They hop on their bikes, mount their portable cameras (the entire movie is told through Tuck's edited footage) and head into the desert. There they find a metal cylinder with a tiny robot beestie, whom the boys name Echo, who's trying to get to his interstellar home. They also find vaguely menacing guys, dressed as a construction crew, also hunting the alien.

Rookie director Dave Green and screenwriter Henry Gayden, friends who co-created the web series "Zombie Roadkill," run through the "E.T." playbook faithfully but with some clever touches, such as Echo's talents assembling scrap metal. The boys' charm and camaraderie make the movie's more formulaic moments go down easier.

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‘Earth to Echo’

Opens Wednesday, July 2, at theaters everywhere; rated PG for some action and peril, and mild language; 91 minutes.