Release Date(s)1988 (August 7, 2018)
Studio(s)Orion Pictures/MGM/20th Century Fox (Shout! Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: D
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: B
Films can often surprise you in a number of different ways. For instance, I was under the impression that outside of Paul Rudd’s frequent usage of a particular clip from Mac and Me for promoting his upcoming projects on The Conan O’Brien Show, I was unaware that the film had as large a following as it has, or that it was as well-remembered as it is. For a movie produced by corporate entities, it’s certainly not the worst film ever made, but after seeing it again many years after watching it when it first hit home video, I’m still perplexed that it exists in the first place.
Mac and Me was released in 1988 and was produced by the folks from McDonald’s and Coca-Cola as an E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial knock-off. In this instance, a family of aliens find their way to Earth, and the youngest amongst them, nicknamed Mac, gets lost in suburbia. Aided by a young boy in a wheelchair and his friends, they soon help Mac find his family and bring them the elixir of life that they require to survive... Coca-Cola. Along the way, there’s a show-stopping dance number at McDonald’s (complete with Ronald McDonald’s presence), government agents out to locate the lost aliens, and the film’s most infamous scene of the wheelchair-clad boy rolling off the edge of a ravine and into the lake below.
To be honest, I have no long-lasting affection for Mac and Me the way that the rest of its cult community has expressed since Shout! Factory first announced an eventual Blu-ray release of it. It’s not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s certainly one that the folks who made it tried their hardest to deliver something enjoyable, however derivative and pandering it may be. Nostalgia paints it as something more than what it actually is, but when you take a cold hard look at it, it’s just a bad film with only minor positive qualities.
Shout! Factory’s Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release of Mac and Me features a transfer that appears to be an older one, but is no slouch when it comes to depth and detail. A fresher scan of the film’s original elements might have been more desirable, which would make the opening of the film that takes place on Mac’s home planet with a weird solarization effect a little more detail-oriented, but what is present is a fine representation. The color palette is fairly bright and punchy, while skin tones on both people and the aliens is acceptable. Brightness and contrast is never a problem, nor are black levels, which leave plenty of shadow detail to be observed. There’s also no major film artifacts leftover other than some speckling, and the overall presentation is stable throughout. The audio, which is included as English 2.0 DTS-HD track with optional subtitles in English SDH, is of the same ilk. It’s not an overly immersive stereo experience with frequent panning, but everything comes through clear without sounding subdued. Dialogue, as well as the whistling noises from the aliens, all comes through well, while the score, music selection, and sound effects have some decent heft to them.
The extras for this release include a new audio commentary with director and co-writer Stewart Raffill and film historian Marc Edward Heuck, which is a bit awkward at times as the two don’t seem to have a strong rapport with each other, but get along well enough to provide plenty of interesting information; That Little Mac in the Sky, a new 15-minute interview with director Stewart Raffill, which goes over some of the same information from the commentary, but brings a few more tidbits to the table; Down to Earth, a 4-minute interview with producer and songwriter Allee Willis, who goes over her main musical contribution to the film; the original theatrical trailer; a VHS home video trailer; a set of 4 TV spots; and an animated still gallery featuring 64 on-set and behind-the-scenes images. For those who love Easter eggs, you’ll be happy to know that there’s one tucked away on this release. Under the Bonus menu, if you highlight Original Trailers and press right with your remote control, a VHS tape will appear in Mac’s hand. Click on it and you will be greeted with the U.S. VHS version of the film in full. Sadly, the alternate Japanese version with the somewhat shocking extended ending didn’t make the final cut. However, a quick Google search will reward you with the scene in question (I was also unaware of it until now).
For all of its intents and purposes, Mac and Me did poorly at the box office upon release, but survives today as a kooky cult film. Folks who saw it when they were young are likely to get more out of it than those who were born long after its release, but it’s worth checking out. Shout! Factory’s Collector’s Edition Blu-ray is sure to delight many folks from both camps.
- Tim Salmons