Release year: 2002
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Explorers turns out to be much ado about nothing, but it's so sublimely assembled we're willing to overlook the sappy climax. Young sci-fi geek Ben Crandall (Ethan Hawke) (could he possibly be based on director Joe Dante?) would give anything to travel in space.
Thanks to his computer-happy pal Wolfgang Muller (River Phoenix), Ben gets his wish, together with best bud Darren Woods (Jason Presson).
In the Great Beyond, the boys encounter an extraterrestrial (Robert Picardo), whose knowledge of earth is limited to what he's gleaned from 1960s TV sitcoms (this is unusual?) Lots of outer-space fun ensues before the film's inevitable downward spiral.
Moderately successful in theatres, Explorers had a healthy second life on video and cable TV, especially after director Dante rethought the film and rearranged a few scenes for better dramatic (and comic) impact.