Tag Archives: Flight of the Navigator

“COMPLIANCE, NAVIGATOR”: LISA, JOE AND ANOTHER LIFE AFTER BY KENT HILL

There are many fascinating stories revealed in Lisa Downs’ Life After The Navigator. The difficult second album, as it can sometimes been seen, has done more than just cement the fact that Life After Flash was no fluke. It shows, we the audience that, like in Navigator’s final frames, David (Joey Cramer, RUNAWAY) Freeman, looking up at a sky alive with fireworks and catching a last glimpse of the extraterrestrial that helped make everything in his world richer from the experience of surviving an extraordinary adventure together, that future is ahead….bright and full of hope.

This of course is a formula made famous by that other kids and aliens flick you might have heard of. It spawned so many imitators. But what was different about the imitators then as opposed to now, is that they borrowed the formula sure enough, but they added their own ingredients instead of merely redressing and mixing up the elements.

I don’t wish to spoil this film for you in any way, shape or form (I will struggle, sorry). But, I was fascinated at how, if you read a little deeper, all of these films like NAVIGATOR, like EXPLORERS, like THE LAST STARFIGHTER; while all are a by-product of the success of E.T., they all have ingredients from another human/alien team-up and help each other kinda film I love, THIS ISLAND EARTH, directed by Joseph M. Newman. I was intrigued further learning the original concept of Navigator from its then novice screenwriter, that a plot which cinematically links it to both ISLAND EARTH and EXPLORERS was the scripts original direction. Oops…nerding off…

What you really need to know is like Flash, Navigator is not merely the making of or behind the scenes of the movie that fans have long waited for. Nor is it simply the story of a kid actor who went to jail. Rather, this Life After is about a film that became a cult classic, with all the bells and whistles you are going to love about that. However, like its predecessor, the emotional core at the center of the piece is the story of the boy who tied the movie together.

Joey Cramer has in essence been from Earth to Phaelon and back. After winning the lottery as a child star, cast in the lead role of a Disney movie directed by the man who gave us GREASE, everything should have been perfect. But as we know, real life isn’t scripted, and the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. Joey’s life in the wake of stardom was deep, dark and perilous. However, like Sam Jones is revealed to be a real life Flash Gordon, so to is Cramer the apotheosis of David Freeman, the struggling hero, the pure of heart, seeking to get back to that one place, the best place in the world. The place we call home.

Life After The Navigator splices together these compelling twin narratives that rise and recede almost on cue, flowing as one into the film’s final stages. Both climax in scenes that will have you smiling, overwhelmed with such good will toward Joey for showing us his life deconstructed, for the surviving cast and crew for sharing their adventures in making the movie, and finally to Lisa Downs and Ashley Pugh. This amazing duo are on a roll as far as this dude in the audience is concerned. So get over to the website (https://www.lifeaftermovies.com/) and grab the best gift you can give or receive this holiday season. Hope.

After a year that has been more tragedy than triumph, Life After The Navigator is the perfect elixir. A story about the adventure behind the adventure, how real heroes exist within us….and not solely on the silver screen.

Disney’s Flight Of The Navigator

I feel like live action Disney stuff from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s is underrated. The animated ventures always get minted into classics and go platinum while awesome entries like Flight Of The Navigator get lost and relegated to hidden gem territory after awhile. This is a smart, funny, charming, invigorating and refreshingly eerie little SciFi that doesn’t talk down to its young audience or wade into sap.

In 1978 young David (Joey Cramer) disappears walking through the woods one night, and isn’t seen for eight years until he walks up to his house and finds different people living in it. Here the film impressed me by showing this whole sequence from his blind perspective, because for him only about four hours have passed and he can’t figure out why when the cops track down his parents, (Cliff De Young and Veronica Cartwright are very effective) they have aged so much. Their reunion is treated maturely and with impressively adequate emotion from Cramer, who ever so slightly reminds me of a young Henry Thomas, therefore cementing the Amblin vibes nicely. David has of course been abducted by aliens but that’s no spoiler as you can see by the chromed up spacecraft jetting around on the film’s poster. The resident extraterrestrial who took him now returns and the two embark on an initially disorganized and frequently hilarious ‘mission’ to find star charts downloaded to David’s brain, evade a pesky NASA bigwig (Howard Hesseman) and return David to his family.

This film is a wondrous creation because of how laid back the action is. David teams up nicely with the alien, a rambunctious robotic arm named Max and voiced by Paul ‘Pee Wee Herman’ Reubens. Most of their time together isn’t spent lamenting the situation or blasting government troops with phaser beams but rather goofing off, rocking out to the earth music that Max takes to, hanging out with other alien specimens he has adopted in his voyages (cue the adorable 80’s practical effects) and zooming around the globe in their vehicle which provides some very good exterior FX too. A young Sarah Jessica Parker also shows up as a sweetheart of a NASA defector who watches out for David and eventually helps him escape. It’s a terrific film that doesn’t take itself too seriously yet doesn’t goof off too much and ruin setup and believability (I’m looking at you, Joe Dante’s misfire ‘Explorers’). It benefits greatly from Cramer who was a true find but doesn’t seem to have had much of a career following this. Greatly recommended.

-Nate Hill

Remembering Flight of the Navigator with Randal Kleiser by Kent Hill

I was still a boy, and there was no such thing as a multiplex in sight the night I saw Flight of the Navigator.

I remember what was then the Russell Street theatre. A relatively new cinema built as its aged counterpart, The Strand, had slipped into disrepair. I remember the smell of the new carpet mixing with the popcorn, how the place always seemed packed, as two lines of movie-goers had to snake around both sides of the block to line up.

But it was a quiet Friday night when I went with my Mum to see Randal Kleiser’s new movie. From the poster, which was all you had to go on back in those days, it looked like one heck of a ride. Another boy meets an alien movie in the wake of the monumental achievement that was E.T. But let’s not descend into comparisons,  such is the way of the industry. Like Dante’s Explorers, Flight of the Navigator is an ingenious blending of many great elements. It begins as a movie about a family, about two brothers. Then we fall into a time travel story that sees our hero transported eight years into a future where he is presumed to be dead. This is further compounded by the fact that he has not aged a day. Thus the testing begins, a search for the heart of the mystery. The testing reveals the hero’s head is filled alien information and that he had been selected as a specimen to study on a far-flung planet in a distant galaxy. The boy is then taken by NASA scientists to be scrutinized further. This is where the boy meets alien story begins and our hero takes off inside a spacecraft in an adventure, not only to help the alien return home, but to once more, travel back in time and get home himself.

That’s a fairly vague overview I know. But I always take into account that there may yet be someone out there that has not seen the movie. That being the chase, I have no desire to spoil it for them.

After I saw the movie I wanted to write Randal Kleiser a letter, which I did, telling him what a marvelous movie I thought he’d made. I did not know where to send it, so my Dad looked up the address of Walt Disney Pictures and we mailed it together.

I know now Mr. Kleiser never got my letter, because thirty years later I got to call him on the phone and tell him just that – what a marvelous movie I thought and still think Flight of the Navigator is.

I hope you’ll enjoy our interview  you dumb dork! Buttface! Scuz-bucket! Ha-ha!

P.S. –

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