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"Earth to Echo": Kids Sure Do Love Sending Cute Aliens Home 

Wednesday, Jul 2 2014
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A tween-age hybrid of E.T. and The Goonies distinguished by its found-footage conceit, Earth to Echo details the nightlong efforts of three best friends to help a stranded alien get back home. On the evening before their suburban Nevada community is razed to make way for a new freeway, videographer Tuck (Brian "Astro" Bradley), nerdy Munch (Reese Hartwig), and foster-kid Alex (Teo Halm) find themselves on an unlikely odyssey when wonky cellphone maps lead them to the desert, where they discover a tiny owl-eyed robo-extraterrestrial who moves by floating and communicates via beeps. While avoiding nefarious agents intent on capturing this intergalactic visitor, the kids — soon joined by plucky Emma (Ella Wahlestedt) — follow Echo's directions to collect various parts for his spaceship, a quest that director Dave Green dully dramatizes through Tuck's shaky first-person cinematography and a gaggle of internet-inspired graphics. From a pawnshop to a biker bar to a high school house party, the foursome struggles with various abandonment issues while Echo bleeps and blips in response. Yet Earth to Echo is such a milquetoast affair that there's never any suspense about how things will turn out for anyone involved. Aside from serviceable lead performances and one nifty special effect in which a speeding truck disassembles, and then reassembles, around another moving vehicle, it's merely a tech-saturated retread of superior kid-based adventure sagas.

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Nick Schager

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