Flight of the Navigator is a 1986 live-action sci-fi film from Walt Disney Pictures and Producers Sales Organization (The Neverending Story, Short Circuitnote Which was released the same year). David Freeman, a 12-year-old boy living in 1978, falls into a ravine after searching for his younger brother, and comes to eight years into the future — everyone has aged but him and he's apparently been gone all that time. An analysis of his brain reveals hidden schematics and star charts, and David later discovers an alien spaceship that was captured by NASA around the same time he was found. Now he must work with its computer program, which he later calls Max, to figure out what happened to him and get back home.
This film provides examples of:
'80s Hair: Carolyn's - discussed with reference to the purple streak therein.
Carolyn: You know something? You're a weird kid!
David: Me? I'm not the one with the purple hair!
Carolyn: Oh... yeah...I went to a concert with some friends last night.
Acrophobic Bird: Averted; when David tells the ship to get 20 miles away from the base, it goes that distance straight up!
Adult Fear: The film places appropriate emphasis on the parental fear of one's child disappearing without a trace. Of course, no parent would expect their child to turn up eight years later and still be the same age they were when they disappeared.
Artistic License - Physics: When the ship travels 20 miles straight up, David floats up to the ceiling as if in microgravity. In reality, at 20 miles up the Earth's gravity is pretty much just as strong as on the surface (astronauts float because they are falling along with the ship or space station around — it's just that they are traveling sideways fast enough that the Earth curves away beneath them so they never end up hitting the ground).
Call Back: Before David falls into the ravine, a freight train can be heard approaching. After returning to his own time, David wakes up to the sound of the train passing by.
Conspicuous CGI: Notably the ship's shapeshifting animations. It's understandable given that this was 1986, and the ship's reflective effect was state-of-the-art at the time. That said, some of the shapeshifting (like the stairs) was actually stop motion.
Darker and Edgier: Somewhat, compared to other Disney movies (live-action or animated). The Freemans are somewhat (but not completely) dysfunctional, and the NASA scientists (at least from David's point of view) only really see him as a test subject, among other things. Oh yeah, and despite the PG rating, there's also at least two instances of PG-13 / R rated swearing (which was thankfully removed from it's broadcasts on The Disney Channel).note That said, it should be noted that Disney technically didn't make this movie. They merely distributed it on another company (the aforementioned PSO)'s behalf.
The Eighties: As if music videosnote Which had just become a new thing at the time; it had been five years since MTV had launched. and multiple brands of Coke being the new "in" things which confuse David, or Carolyn's hairdo, wasn't enough to remind viewers exactly which decade David finds himself in, we also have the synthesized soundtrack which practically oozes '80s.
Exact Words: David told Max to take the ship twenty miles away from the NASA base. He never said in which direction to take the ship...
Extreme Omnivore: One of the aliens on the ship eats David's hat, and almost eats his head.
Max: Don't get too close to them, David. They're hungry.
Genre Savvy: when David is being observed by scientists via a one-way mirror he angrily makes clear that he knows perfectly well what that mirror is there for, because he watches TV.
The Government: The staff of the NASA facility decide to keep David virtually imprisoned indefinitely without regard for the consequences when they realize how much alien data is contained in David's brain.
Older and Wiser: David's brother Jeff grew up to be a pretty cool teenager. On a lesser note, the family dog "Bruiser" may have taken eight years, but he grew from an oblivious puppy who couldn't follow commands to save his life into a competent frisbee-catching dog.
Rip Van Winkle: David loses consciousness for "a second" and wakes up 8 years later. Once the science is explained, this situation doesn't quite fit the trope, but from David's point of view that's what happened.
Robo Speak: Max before getting his data back, as exemplified in the second page quote.