Written by: Hal Barwood, Jerry Belson, John Hill, Matthew Robbins & Steven Spielberg
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Melinda Dillon, FranÃ§ois Truffaut, Teri Garr, Bob Balaban
Released by: Columbia/Tristar
My Advice: Rent it. Wait for a better version and buy it.
Roy Neary (Dreyfuss) is pretty much an average guy. He works for the power company. He’s got a wife (Garr) and three kids (Shawn Bishop, Adrienne Campbell, Toby Dreyfuss). Everything seems to be fairly normal…until one night while out on the job he meets up with a UFO and has…a close encounter with it. He’s not the only one. Jillian (Dillon) has a young son (Cary Guffey) who seems to be having an ongoing close encounter of his own–and mom doesn’t like it one bit. Add to all of this the fact that Claude Lacombe (Truffaut) is running around finding long lost planes in one desert and a ship in another…yup, something weird is going on–and it’s all coming to a head.
[ad#longpost]Ah, this is a grand film. Back when I was younger, I used to wait for this to come on network television, turn out all the lights in the recreation room and then wait for…well, I can’t do spoilers (even for a film as widely viewed as this one)…but you can imagine why I would want to do that and what I was waiting for. It’s just positively marvelous. Dreyfuss’ everyman driven nuts by an implanted obsession that he can’t control is perfectly played and the rest of the cast follows suit. There really isn’t a weak link in the bunch, and I’ve always thought it marvelous that Truffaut played the role of Lacombe. The effects still hold up today as well as they did a quarter century ago and the film doesn’t strike me on re-viewing it as something that’s particularly dated–as long as fashions and vehicles are glossed over, of course.
This is the single-disc version from Columbia/Tri-Star, and as a result the features are nil. You get Spielberg‘s blessed 137-minute version of the film, and that’s about it. If you’re the type who doesn’t care for a great deal of features, then this will be right up your alley. However, anyone else should try and track down a now-out-of-print two-disc edition–good luck.