Need some major stress-relief? You could do a 90-minute yoga session, get an adjustment at the chiropractor, take an hour for mindful meditation … or just could go see Super 8.

From American Graffiti and The Goonies to Empire of the Sun, E.T., Poltergeist, and A.I., Steven Spielberg has a way of capturing the spirit of childhood from eras past that’s unparalleled by other filmmakers. While the new Super 8 actually is written, directed, and co-produced by J.J. Abrams (Lost, Star Trek) and produced by Spielberg, it is quintessential Spielberg. In fact, with a terrific ensemble of kids, including Elle Fanning, Riley Griffiths, and Joel Courtney, it may “out-Goonie” The Goonies.

I suspect there’s quite a bit of homage thrown in … to Spielberg from Abrams. It’s got a little Transformers, as well as aspects of District 9, too. The storyline of youthful filmmakers may line up with that of Spielberg, who began directing his first short films very young. Since Super 8 has been promoted with a lot of mystery as to the story–even though it’s been revealed in other reviews–I like the spirit of that for this film, so I don’t want to spoil it here for those who may not have read other reviews.

I will say the nostalgia of the film is endearing, probably particularly for anyone growing up in the late 70s, with songs of the time (Blondie and more), a stereotypical stoner-dude, and an idealized small American town. The boyish charms of the child actors have an adult manifestation in Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights and Early Edition), who in his 40s still has boyish good looks. Ron Eldard (ER, Men Behaving Badly), who plays opposite Chandler as a troubled, haunted father, is transformed from prior roles. Joel McKinnon Miller (from Big Love) adds humor with his chaotic family.

Be sure to stay for the final credits, and catch the “Romero Company” in the kids’ film–a tribute to George Romero of zombie films, I’d imagine.

Maybe I’m going out on a limb not knowing all that awaits us during summer movie season, but I think I’m ready to pronounce Super 8 the best blockbuster movie of the summer.

Screenwriters: Never underestimate the power of a nostalgia-filled story–even if it’s a completely imagined nostalgia!

5 of 5 Purple Pencils



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