Let's be real: E.T. isn't exactly a looker—at least not according to Earth's standards of adorableness. He looks like a stack of Shar Pei puppies.
While each person who meets E.T. reacts to him differently, each encounter is marked with fear and suspicion—at least initially. (Sure, Elliott and E.T. become BFFs by the end of the film, but don't forget that when Elliott first meets E.T. he falls down and screams his head off.) But by the end of E.T., Elliott, his family, and even the federal task force get to know the alien and soon discern that appearances, although important, aren't always what they seem.
In spite of E.T.'s strange appearance, Elliott is quick to accept him because children are inherently more tolerant than adults.
Keys and his federal task force are wise to approach E.T. with caution. He's an alien!
The Sharks and the Jets. The Greasers and the Socs. The Gryffindors and the Slytherins. Film is full of famous rivalries, and E.T. pits the children against the adults. Not in any physical way, of course. We're talking about the innocence, wonder, and unguarded nature of youth versus the adult tendencies of skepticism and suspicion.
Elliott and the other children's youthfulness colors everything they do: from their interactions both with each other and with adults to their reactions to E.T. As kids, they're open to amazement and awe because, well, why the heck not?
The portrayal of grown-ups in E.T. is a condemnation of adulthood. All of the adults are skeptical, suspicious, and prone to betrayal. Never grow up!
E.T. is a celebration of the innocence, discovery, and honesty of youth.
Communication and understanding go together like Gertie's cowgirl costume and Halloween. In E.T., Elliott and E.T. struggle to communicate at first. They're from enormously different backgrounds. But once they learn how to communicate, they really communicate.
E.T. employs nonverbal communication cues, like his supersized, glowing finger. Gertie teaches E.T. how to speak English (with an assist from children's educational television). E.T. builds an interplanetary communication device out of household junk. And Elliott and E.T. share a telepathic bond, where they can communicate without uttering a word.
In the end, Elliott and E.T. share their needs, their wants, and their emotions, and come to a mutual understanding that suggests that, if we can communicate, we can overcome our differences.
E.T. shows that any crisis can be averted if we just learn how to communicate.
Elliott's communication with E.T. improves his ability to communicate with his own family.
What if we told you that E.T. is a film about two pint-sized aliens? Hear us out: E.T. is a literal alien. Obviously. He's not from around here, and he doesn't exactly fit in. But Elliott is also an alien in his own right, struggling to find acceptance and fit in, in spite of his differences. Michael—and especially his friends—treats him like an outsider. His mother doesn't listen to him. He's a textbook middle child.
And just as E.T.'s fellow extraterrestrials ditched him on Earth, Elliott's father abandoned him to soak up the sun in Mexico with some chick named Sally. Elliott is a solitary boy in need of an ally, and E.T. finds Elliott when Elliott needs him most.
E.T. may be a visitor from another planet, but Elliott is more of an alien than E.T. is.
E.T. is a substitute father for Elliott because he protects him, teaches him things, and helps him grow up.
At its glowing red heart, E.T. is a film about friendship. Elliott and E.T. are a tightknit pair from wildly different backgrounds, and their bond is grounded in love, loyalty, compassion, teamwork, and even a mysterious cosmic connection. But the camaraderie doesn't stop there.
The relationship between Elliott and Michael is also important: Michael starts the film as Elliott's principal persecutor, but by the end he's his primary protector. Even Michael's goofy friends step up and lend a hand when needed. When it comes to all things E.T., these kids exhibit a youthful, almost punk rock "us against the world" sensibility.
The friendships in E.T. make the claim that, simply put, you can count on kids. (Adults? Not so much.)
If they were really such good friends, E.T. would have stayed on Earth with Elliott.