*batteries not included

December 18th, 1987


*batteries not included

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Still of Elizabeth Peña, Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn in *batteries not included

Apartment block tenants seek the aid of alien mechanical life-forms to save their building from demolition.

Release Year: 1987

Rating: 6.2/10 (12,363 voted)

Director: Matthew Robbins

Stars: Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Frank McRae

A group of tenants in an apartment block are being forced to move out so that it can be demolished. The tenants are reluctant to move, so the developers hire a local gang to 'persuade' them to leave. Fortunately, visiting alien mechanical life-forms come to town. When they befriend the tenants, the aliens use their extraterrestrial abilities to defeat the developers.

Writers: Mick Garris, Brad Bird

Hume Cronyn - Frank Riley
Jessica Tandy - Faye Riley
Frank McRae - Harry Noble
Elizabeth Peña - Marisa Esteval
Michael Carmine - Carlos
Dennis Boutsikaris - Mason Baylor
Tom Aldredge - Sid Hogenson
Jane Hoffman - Muriel Hogenson
John DiSanti - Gus
John Pankow - Kovacs
MacIntyre Dixon - DeWitt
Michael Greene - Lacey
Doris Belack - Mrs. Thompson
Wendy Schaal - Pamela
José Angel Santana - Goon #1 (as José Santana)

Taglines: Five ordinary people needed a miracle. Then one night, Faye Riley left the window open.

Release Date: 18 December 1987

Filming Locations: East Village, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA

Opening Weekend: $3,326,530 (USA) (20 December 1987) (1328 Screens)

Gross: $32,945,797 (USA)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Originally intended to be a story featured in the TV series Amazing Stories. Steven Spielberg liked the idea so much he decided to make it a theatrical release.

Continuity: When Carlos is in the cellar, he swings an ax at a glass panel in the door, making one large white crack. In the next shot there are two white cracks in the glass. The cracks change between shots as well.

Carlos: [after having money thrown in his face] You kill my head, man.

User Review

Use only as directed...

Rating: 7/10

*batteries not included is a very underrated movie, especially among reviewers on the IMDb. The pros, such as Roger Ebert seem to give it some respect (along with 3 thumbs up). There was nothing sugar coated about the performances of the 5 main characters in *batteries not included. Jessica Tandy gives one of the best performances of her career as Faye Riley who appears to be in the early-to-mid stages of Alzheimer's disease. Hume Cronyn is Faye's husband Frank, owner of a small diner with no customers. Elizabeth Peña is Marisa Esteval, a single soon-to-be mother who clings to her statue of the Virgin Mary for what little hope she has. Dennis Boutsikaris is the cynical artist/painter Mason Baylor, who has a heart as big as his artistic talent, yet no one other than Marisa seems to acknowledge his talent. Finally there's Frank McRae as the former boxer extraordinaire Harry Noble, now living in the basement of the building that houses each character and the Riley's diner. Oh... Harry watches way too much TV... especially the commercials. His only lines (which were few) in this movie were lines from commercials. This movie represents a cross section of people who are on the verge of losing their homes to a real estate developer, who will stop at nothing to get them out of their building. After throwing large sums of money at them (to no avail), the developer hires Carlos (Michael Carmine) to run them out using whatever means are necessary, including force. The characters are developed to the point that you actually care for all 5 of them. Just when it looks hopeless for our friends, small spaceships, compliments of Industrial Light and Magic show up and start fixing everything. And flipping burgers in Riley's Dinner. They also wash dishes, repair broken Virgin Mary statues and stopwatches and they replicate using spare pots and pans and electrical appliances, fused together by at least 1.21 gigawatt's of electricity. Although the aliens are portrayed as mechanical beings with heart, they certainly give hope to the residents, and help bind them together. The visual effects are a treat... especially for those of us who have tired of CGI effects that look more like a cartoon than reality. There's something about filming a real model, built by human hands against a blue screen, then matting it into the film that makes it look more realistic than computer animated visuals. Many have written that this movie tries to suck the viewer in, using emotional techniques, as opposed to making it an intellectual masterpiece. I believe it takes more talent to get the audience to emotionally invest themselves in a movie than to create eye candy. Thanks to great acting, a decent-enough script, good cinematography and an equally emotional score from James Horner, this picture works in every way... even 20 years later. If you haven't seen this movie in 20 years, go ahead and give it a spin. It's as good today as it was in 1987! Prices may vary in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico...


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