July 12th, 1985



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Ben Crandall, an alien-obsessed kid, dreams one night of a circuit board. Drawing out the circuit, he and his friends Wolfgang and Darren set it up...

Release Year: 1985

Rating: 6.3/10 (7,064 voted)

Director: Joe Dante

Stars: Ethan Hawke, River Phoenix, Bobby Fite

Ben Crandall, an alien-obsessed kid, dreams one night of a circuit board. Drawing out the circuit, he and his friends Wolfgang and Darren set it up, and discover they have been given the basis for a starship. Setting off in the ThunderRoad, as they name their ship, they find the aliens Ben hopes they would find... but are they what they seem?

Ethan Hawke - Ben Crandall
River Phoenix - Wolfgang Müller
Bobby Fite - Steve Jackson
Bradley Gregg - Steve Jackson's Gang
Georg Olden - Steve Jackson's Gang
Chance Schwass - Steve Jackson's Gang
Amanda Peterson - Lori Swenson
Danny Nucci - Nasty Kid at School
Jason Presson - Darren Woods
Dana Ivey - Mrs. Müller
Taliesin Jaffe - Ludwig Müller
James Cromwell - Mr. Müller
Brooke Bundy - Science Teacher
Tricia Bartholome - Girl in Classroom
Eric Luke - Darren's Teacher

Taglines: The adventure begins in your own back yard.

Release Date: 12 July 1985

Filming Locations: 1616 Wabasso Way, Glendale, California, USA

Opening Weekend: $3,607,340 (USA) (14 July 1985)

Gross: $9,873,044 (USA)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Feature film debut for both Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix.

Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): When Darren puts the headphones on Wak's head, he puts them on the side of his eyes. His ears are much lower on his head.

Ben Crandall: [stuttering, astounded at the violent film footage] But thi - see, this isn't real! A-a-and we don't really kill people! Well, we do, b-but n-not aliens, 'cause we haven't met any!

User Review

Classic kids' adventure, hugely underrated


All kids should watch this - between the ages of 6 and 13. I saw this when it came out on video - I was 8 - don't know how I missed it at the cinema - it couldn't have had a big release in the UK. I loved the detail and imagination within this movie - like the one dream that the three boys all share, the sphere they create from their computer, the guard dog they give bubble gum to, the amusement ride seat they turn into their spaceship, with windows made from the fronts of washing-machines and TVs. And our three heroes make a great team. They are all very different in character, yet share that same dream of escape and adventure. Ethan Hawke is the main hero - the one that most viewers will relate to - the average 80's kid hooked on television, daydreaming during school lessons and a huge crush on the girl next door. River Phoenix is his nerdy computer-whiz friend with an Einstein-like crazy father (played by James Cromwell) and Jason Presson is the mature, yet weird kid with a troubled home-life. The magic of this movie is in its innocence and the dreams that the kids are able to turn into reality. The first half is pure 80's kids' adventure movie. The second half becomes pure "Dante", as it dives into 50's-style B-movie sci-fi - exactly what Dante is referencing and sending up, yet paying homage to at the same time. What our heroes find out in space is certainly not what they expect or what we expect. They feel let down by their discovery and in some way, we do too. But there are so many great scenes in this film - the chemistry between the 3 main actors is great - they really bond well together and we get drawn into the film because of Dante's attention to detail in these characters. It's a funny combination of child adventure and B-movie sci-fi but kids will love it, and as you grow up, you learn to see (like many great kids' films) many new details that pass you by as a kid but keep you entertained all over again from a different perspective. A highly overlooked 80's adventure movie, almost as good as The Goonies, but far less commercial, due to Dante's unique approach. Go and see it now, or see it again or watch it with your kids - you will all love it.


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