Double Take: B is for Batteries Not Included

Today’s tbt movie is Batteries Not Included starring Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn, and Elizabeth Peña(I miss you) in a PG family film involving a cast of featured tenants in a rundown apartment building in its last counting days of being demolished and trying to rid the remaining people who stay there. With no way of stopping this from happening out of no where some robotic aliens come to help not only save their building but give them hope to live happy lives.

I can’t remember my exact age when i watched this but this movie was released back in 1987. It’s been a long time since ive seen this movie but what i can remember is it gave me that sense of fun and imagination from the cool robot flying saucers, to the likeable child-like tenants, and also the upbeat happy score throughout the film. I never asked any questions like, where did they robots come from? Why did they come to help them? Were they sent there by someone? Maybe now that I am older, i can watch this film and get some answers. This holds a bit of nostalgia for me because i would watch this with my cousins all the time so we can stay quiet for almost two hours. Let’s see if this movie holds up to its uplifting message 29 years later.

One hour and Forty six minutes later….

Batteries Not Included, a tale of unexplained miracles, denial, destruction, robotic procreation, and letting go. It is good that as a child I was able to just enjoy the cool flying robots to distract me from a bit of sadness throughout the movie. There was still plenty of charm to go around to compensate for the bad. This children’s/family movie was released at a time where the mystery of science vs. fantasy was mixed together. Movies like Short Circuit, Flight of the Navigator, Mac and Me, etc. All gave us something to hope for when things were down. When you are ready to throw in the towel and give up. Something comes along to remind you that things happen for a reason and that by giving up you give up on life and the possibility of being happy. Batteries Not Included is no exception. With all of these movies, even though you can’t explain why they are happening, the main point is that you can overcome any obstacle with hope, friends/family, and believing in yourself.


I noticed that the movie had some familiar names i was unaware of as a kid. Starting to remember directors, writers and composers, I notice Brad Bird (Pixar’s The Incredibles) Co-wrote the movie, Director Steven Spielberg served as an executive producer and James Horner did the score music. There was an upbeat fun jazzy swing to the music. The score kept reminding me of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?  and Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. Since I am older to understand more of what I am watching, the movie was a little depressing. This movie dealt with mental health, horrible corporations forcing senior citizens and pregnant women out of their homes, and former athletes who have become shut-ins in their own homes.

It’s been a long time since ive seen this movie but what i can remember is it gave me that sense of fun and imagination from the cool robot flying saucers, to the likeable child-like tenants, and also the upbeat happy score throughout the film

 You never really find out where the robotic rescuers come from but in this case, that is okay. Sometimes it’s okay to have a movie that leaves it to the imagination on why things happen the way that they do. Now I know I didn’t miss anything when I was younger. The two robotic saucers that arrive to help the old couple with their troubles happen to be a couple who later in the movie have kids. It was interesting to see that they represented the “nuclear” family image that everyone strives to be which is a Mom, Dad, two and a half kids. At least one boy and one girl. One of the robotic kids had big eyes which could be interpreted as the boy/geek of the kids. You can definitely tell, the curve of their exterior represented the females while the males had more sharp edges and rods sticking out. batteriesnotincluded2There were a few things that left me unsatisfied. Like the character of Carlos, who couldn’t really figure out who he wanted to be. Either good or bad, they treated him as an overall villain but was shown a softer side and desperation to be accepted by others. His last scene in the film left me a little confused on how to close his story arc. It ended on a sad note which was quite sad. Another was what happened next for these people. I guess we can just except that everyone turned out okay. Witñhout spoiling anything, it seemed the problem of the apt. building not being torn down worked out but they are still left with a lot of problems to deal with. I guess at the end of the day, as long as they have each other it will be okay.

BNI fit the 80’s style of family drama with a good cast and straight forward storyline. I can still notice the magic it can bring to a child who could watch it today but as an adult it may not keep your full attention but can still gives you a couple of laughs. A movie you can have in the background while cleaning the house.

+1/2 for being fun, but a little depressing for my taste and genre
+1 on acting. All believable. They knew how to grab your attention when on-screen
+1/2 writing was okay. Left me confused on some storylines. Tone was back and forth.
+1/2 recommended for kids who can watch kid movies before the 90’s and not treat as old as a black and white film
+0 Even though I watched it a lot as a kid. I probably wouldn’t watch this again for a long time.

2 1/2 out of 5

Next up for next week is Candyman


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