*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.
This film provides examples of:
- All There in the Script: While never stated onscreen, the Fix-Its do have names. The adult Fix-Its are called Kilowatt and Carmen.
- *batteries not included: Played with, as the visitors resemble the kind of space toy that would often feature this disclaimer.
- 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.
- 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.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Mr. Lacey and his toady.
- Cute Machines: The visitors.
- 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.
- Face Heel Door Slam: Carlos attempts to be The Atoner, and fails, though it's not his fault.
- 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 Face Door Slam: However, Faye rejects him when he visits her in the hospital. He throws the flowers he brought her in the garbage as he walks away.
- Higher-Tech Species: The "Fix-Its"
- Idiot Ball: Carlos gets handed one when the building is about to burn down. The other guy tells him where the bomb is. Instead of running to stop it, Carlos goes to try and talk Faye out of the building. He only goes for the bomb when he can't get her to budge, but by then it's too late. If he had stopped the bomb to start with, he could have gotten her out at his leisure.
- Unless of course he was afraid he wouldn't be able to disarm it in time and wanted Faye out of there first in case something went wrong.
- 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 BSOD Harry moves from what's left of the front steps.
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Carlos, one of the developer's minions, attempts a flurry of punches to the Gentle Giant 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.
- Real-Life Relative: Real-life couple Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy as Frank and Faye Riley.
- 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.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Though mechanical, the baby Fix-Its definitely qualify.
- Saving The Apartment Building
- Shout-Out: ET 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.
- Sufficiently Advanced Aliens
- 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."