Henry Thomas and the sequel to E.T. (no, really)

E.T. Henry ThomasHere, come on down the rabbit hole with me. I went looking for some background on Henry Thomas for a review of The Fall of the House of Usher… and found an entirely different little gem: a very short, very special sequel to E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, posing as an Xfinity commercial from four years ago.

Seriously.

Of course you know that Henry Thomas was Elliott in Stephen Spielberg’s sappy and still wonderful classic fantasy film E.T. It’s hard to imagine that it hit theaters for the first time more than forty years ago, and since it was made, Spielberg – quite rightly – has resisted the constant pressure to do a sequel of some kind.

Except … he did Or at least he gave permission to somebody else to do it.

Back in 2020, when the world still made a little sense, the cable company called Xfinity actually made a Chrstimas ad that aired on Sky TV in the UK – I’m not sure it ever played here in America – that is a real, live sequel to the original film, with ET coming back to visit a full-grown Elliot and his own family. And it’s just … wonderful.

Click this link or just search it out on YouTube yourself, but either way: take a look. If you’re anything like me, you’ll weep a couple of happy tears, at how this tiny little short recaptures the movie from 1982 almost perfectly.

Truth be told, it never got made. There’s even a “making of” video on YouTube – here’s the link – and nobody was more surprised than Henry Thomas himself. He was amazed that Spielberg signed off on it – but he did. And Lance Acord – who’s been directing fancy commercials or the big boys for years, and who’s won BAFTA awards and so much more for his work as a cinematographer and director of photography – put together a team of actors and special effects folks who did just about everything right.

E.T. isn’t reduced to a squeegy little CGI character here. He – it – they? — were created by puppeteers, then enhanced with CGI, and it works perfectly. And it doesn’t stop there. The two kids who play Elliot’s children really do look like him. His wife, who doesn’t have a single spoken line, looks enough like Elliott’s own Mom from the original film to be a little spooky. And Henry Thomas as Eliot manages to be Eliot all grown up. He plays the whole new encounter perfectly. And on top of that, the filmmakers worked hard to put as many references from the original film into the short to make it even more fasciating. It just … works.

It’s a little late for Christmas, but if you want to get a tiny slice of the original sense of wonder that ET gave us 40-some years ago, go watch this thing, hiding in a corner of YouTube. I hope it makes you as unreasonably happy as it did me

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