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Film / *batteries not included

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*batteries not included is a 1987 sci-fi/fantasy film produced by Steven Spielberg, directed by Matthew Robbins, and starring Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy.

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. Brad Bird was one of the screenwriters.

The title is a play on "Batteries not included", a common disclaimer on such electronic toys 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.
  • The Alleged House: The plot of revolves around the villains trying to tear down the old apartment, but from the state of it, they may as well have just waited for it to fall down. Fortunately, the Fix-Its end up restoring it as good as (or maybe better than) new.
  • all lowercase letters: The film's title is stylized in this manner, along with an asterisk.
  • 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.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Mr. Lacey and his toady Kovacs.
  • 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.
  • Curbstomp Battle:
    • Carlos vs Harry, complete with Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh.... Don't mess with a former boxer.
    • Carlos himself gives quite a beating to Kovacs' hired arsonist, first for butting into his business, and then finding out Faye is still inside and won't go back to undo it. The arsonist has to feign a serious injury to distract Carlos when it starts turning into a near literal curb stomp.
  • 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: When Carlos and the arsonist realize Faye is still inside, Carlos orders the goon 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 knee 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.
  • Downer Beginning: Within the first few minutes of the movie the residents of the apartment building are in dire straits as they are harassed and then assaulted into moving out by Carlos and his goons. Frank’s cafe is destroyed and his longtime friends move out, leaving him alone to take care of Faye. Mason’s girlfriend dumps him and delivers a scathing "Reason You Suck" Speech over his aspirations as an artist. Marisa is pregnant and alone, having not heard from her boyfriend Hector in a while. And Harry, having already been a victim of Carlos’s attacks, is attacked again in his own home.
  • Do Wrong, Right: When Carlos finds the arsonist trying to burn down the building, he insists on being the one to do so and starts breaking the gas lines open with his axe. The arsonist tells him to stop, not because he's having second thoughts, but because damaged gas lines are an obvious sign of arson and he wants to Make It Look Like an Accident with his elaborate chemical reaction detonator and flammable balloons hanging from the ceiling that're much harder to trace. As he's packing his things and trying to make a run for it, he's angrily muttering about Carlos' sloppiness afterwards.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even though he's a hired thug, Carlos is bothered by Kovacs' willingness to burn down the apartment, especially when there are people still inside.
  • Flying Saucer: A whole lot of little saucers anyway.
  • Glad I Thought of It: Right at the beginning, Mason is showing a representative from City Hall the building, hoping to persuade them to put a preservation order on the building due to its architectural/artistic merits. She doesn't buy it. At the end of the film, the representative is back, with a journalist in tow. She's enthusing about the exact same features that Mason pointed out to her as the reason why they have to preserve the building.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 an arsonist sets it alight with her still inside.
  • Landmark Declaration Gambit: Zigzagged as Mason tries to get their building declared a landmark to save it but the official refuses, citing its bad condition and having at least a minimum standard. It's implied this happened at the end of the film when the building is shown standing amidst all the new construction after the Fix-Its restore it to pristine condition.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: The visitors can eat scrap metal and use it to build accessories for themselves, or even baby robots, seemingly in the same way that earth creatures can eat food to grow and produce children.
  • Magical Negro: Harry, when he manages to revive the stillborn Fix-It.
    Harry: "We bring good things to life!"
  • 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. One even openly mocks Kovacs when The building is miraculously fully restored to as-new condition and the tenants 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 aaaand the fact that Harry was a former heavyweight boxer. 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 seldomly. 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: Downplayed Trope. 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, the few times he even speaks, only uses television one-liners.
  • 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."
  • Villainous Gentrification: 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.
  • Villainous Valor: While he had an appropriate "Oh, Crap!" reaction afterwards, gotta give props to Carlos for seeing a giant, pissed off former boxer don his gloves to beat him down, then proceed to fight the guy anyways. Was to no effect, but points for trying.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Mr. Lacey's toady Kovacs tries bribery, intimidation, vandalism, and eventually arson to get the tenants out. It's unknown whether or not Lacey got punished for these acts (aside from having to spend a lot of extra money and planning time to split his skyscraper project into two buildings), while the guy hired to burn down the Rileys' place gets roughed up by Carlos and flees, his fate also unknown. The only one confirmed to get any real retribution is Mr. Kovacs, whom Lacey fires for his failure.