Film / *batteries not included

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*batteries not included is a 1987 film produced by Steven Spielberg but actually directed by Matthew Robbins.

The inhabitants of an old apartment building, under threat from unscrupulous developers, are visited by mysterious mechanical creatures resembling tiny flying saucer machines. The appearance of the living machines, later called "The Fix-Its", make life easier for everyone. They go about restoring the (recently trashed) cafe, fixing the tenants' belongings, and bringing the residents together.

The story was originally pitched as an episode of Spielberg's TV series Amazing Stories before he decided to develop it as a feature film.

The title is a play on "Batteries not included", a common disclaimer on electronic toys such as the Fix-Its resemble.


This film provides examples of:

  • Androcles' Lion: The characters' kindness to the Fix-Its is repaid when thousands of Fix-Its show up and repair the apartment building.
  • All There in the Script: While never stated onscreen, the Fix-Its do have names. The adult Fix-Its are called Kilowatt and Carmen.
  • Amusing Injuries: Both Mason and Carlos get electrocuted when they try to enter the Fix-Its den on the roof, with hair standing on end, covered in soot and smoking. Both men are perfectly fine by their next scene.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: After Harry violently ejects Carlos from the building, Faye is screaming for them to leave him alone, thinking he is her son Bobby. Frank tries to explain to her that he's not their son, but she returns with a tirade about how Frank was always too hard on him and he's buying that car to "get away from you." Frank's face shows that he realizes his wife has blamed him for their son's death all these years.
  • Bond One-Liner: "I'll take door number one."
  • Buzzing the Deck: At the end Harry has Little Guy and won't let him go, and the parents keep zipping over their heads until he does.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Harry trains Little Guy to fly into his pocket when he blows a dog whistle. He uses the whistle to find Flotsam, Jetsam and Little Guy after Carlos scares them away.
  • Childhood Memory Demolition Team: The developers trying to knock down the apartment building, where some of the residents have lived their entire lives.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Faye is obviously suffering from advanced dementia or possibly Alzheimer's. Or maybe a memory block as a result from shock of Bobby's death.
  • Community-Threatening Construction: Much of the plot revolved around a large corporation's efforts to remove the tenants of a small apartment building so they could build a small skyscraper.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Mr. Lacey and his toady.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Everyone assumes that Faye scattering nuts and bolts like bird seeds was just another one of her memory episodes. That is, until the Fix-Its show themselves.
  • Cute Machines: The visitors.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Played for drama. Faye has been mistaking Carlos for her son Bobby through the entire film. He plays into her delusion to try and coax her out of the burning building. His mistake comes when he tells her he wants her to come outside and see his new car, which triggers Faye's memory about how her son died and she realizes he's not Bobby and locks herself in another room.
    • The next day, when Carlos comes to see Faye in the hospital, Frank (not knowing what happened between them) tries to make her happy by telling her Bobby has come.. She just breaks down crying.
  • Dirty Coward: The arsonist sent to burn the building. When they realize Faye is still inside, Carlos orders him to go inside and stop the bomb. When he refuses, Carlos starts to rough him up until he agrees. He then starts screaming that Carlos broke his leg and he will have to go defuse the bomb himself. As soon as Carlos darts inside the building, he runs to his car and drives off, perfectly fine.
  • Disappeared Dad: Hector to Marisa's baby, who takes off for Chicago, even though she is due any time.
  • Dramatic Alien VTOL: With an army of "Fix-Its"
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even though he's a hired thug, Carlos is bothered by Lacey's willingness to burn down the apartment, especially when there are people still inside.
  • First Contact
  • Flying Saucer: A whole lot of little saucers anyway.
  • Gentle Giant: Harry
  • Heel–Face Turn: Carlos. He fully redeems himself when he charges headlong into the burning tenement building to rescue Faye.
  • Heel Realization: Lacey mocks Carlos that he was already willing to do some awful things before, so why should this act bother him? This leads Carlos to re-evaluate.
  • Higher-Tech Species: The "Fix-Its"
  • Idiot Ball: Carlos has two minutes before the bomb goes off. He wastes it trying to coax Faye out of the building. Only when he realizes it's not going to work, he makes a mad dash for the bomb, and is a few seconds too late.
  • Innocent Aliens: The "Fix-Its"
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Carlos. Mixes with Heel–Face Turn and Even Evil Has Standards: Carlos risks his own life to enter the burning tenement and rescue Faye after Lacey's goon sets it alight with her still inside.
  • Karma Houdini: Mr. Lacey tries bribery, intimidation, vandalism and eventually arson to get the tenants out. He is never caught or punished for these acts and in the end he builds his project with only a minor adjustment made to save the building. The only one to get any retribution is the underling charged with evicting the residents, whom Lacey fires.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: The visitors can eat scrap metal and use it to build accessories for themselves, or even baby robots.
  • Magical Negro: Harry
  • Mr. Fanservice: Mason
  • Predatory Business: The company trying to demolish the apartment building.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Lacey's construction workers are shown to be a standup crowd just doing their jobs, stopping in to have a meal at the cafe and refusing to move in on the apartment rubble until a Heroic B.S.O.D. Harry moves from what's left of the front steps. One even openly mocks Lacey's goons when The building is miraculously fixed and the tenets have won.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Carlos, attempts a flurry of punches to Harry's midsection to no avail. A bad idea, considering that Harry was already more than a little upset about Carlos shoving him down a flight of stairs earlier. Harry flashes Carlos a satisfied grin just before knocking the crap out of him and tossing him out the front door.
  • The Quiet One: Harry speaks very seldom. When he does, he's watched so much T.V. that he speaks in commercial catch phrases.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: While it's never made clear if he could actually do anything to a human, Kilowatt's normally yellow eyes/optics go bright red when he's suspicious and/or angry, and the effect is very unnerving after his light-hearted and amusing scenes earlier.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: In the end, even though Frank seems to understand what Carlos did for them and holds no grudge, Faye only bursts into tears when he visits her in the hospital, having come to terms with the reality that he's not Bobby. Carlos throws the flowers he brought her in the garbage as he walks away.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Though mechanical, the baby Fix-Its definitely qualify.
  • Saving the Orphanage: An elderly couple, a pregnant woman, a starving artist and a former boxer who mainly communicates through ad slogans are trying to keep the tenements they call home from being demolished by a greedy land developer. Obviously, none of them can breakdance, so they really need a miracle.
  • Shout-Out: To E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
  • Speaks in Shout-Outs: Harry.
  • Spicy Latina: Shy, quiet Marisa subverts this trope, although she will let you know when she's upset or angered.
  • Thoroughly Mistaken Identity: The elderly and possibly senile Faye persists in addressing Carlos by the name of her dead son.
  • Title Drop: Harry does it when the last of the baby robots emerges "stillborn."
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