Close Encounters of the Third Kind Movie Review (2024)

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

  • Educational Value

    very little

    Thought-provoking insight into the vastness of space and its other intelligent inhabitants.

  • Positive Messages


    Offers a hopeful picture of interplanetary events, rather than the typical predatory, violent movie aliens. Rather than fearing the unknown, the Earth's population just as easily might look forward to a peaceful, friendly encounter. Themes include perseverance and humility.

  • Positive Role Models


    A mother is portrayed as unselfish, caring, courageous, and strong as she searches for and fights for the return of her young son. The unorthodox hero, obsessed with making sense of what he's seen, proves the value of following a single-minded path in spite of ridicule or opposition. U.S. military personnel are the antagonists and in most cases are portrayed as blindly following orders, harsh, and unsympathetic. On the other hand, the scientists are characterized as open-minded, trusting, and intelligent.

  • Violence & Scariness


    Several spooky, frightening sequences: Strange lights appear and disappear; mailboxes shake; a house is attacked by unseen presences; a car flies off the edge of a cliff; dead horses, cows and chickens are found lying by the side of the road. A little boy is abducted by aliens; his terrified mother chases him unsuccessfully. Helicopters stalk the hero and heroine, and they are captured by military forces. A giant spaceship and a number of auxiliary craft hover and land on the earth.

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  • Language


    Occasional swearing includes "hell," "jackass," "s--t," "goddamn," "Christ," "bastards," "ass."

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  • Products & Purchases

    a little

    Multiple product placements: Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Shell Oil, Budweiser, Baskin Robbins, Piggly Wiggly markets.

  • Parents Need to Know

    Parents need to know that director Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind is ultimately an uplifting, optimistic story with themes of perseverance and humility, but it has many scary, spooky moments before the aliens' exact nature is revealed. To a mother's horror, her toddler son disappears, becoming a captive of unknown villains. Earth is enveloped by strange events: electrical storms, unexplained shaking, and unidentified flying objects (UFOs). A house is attacked by mysterious forces; dead animals appear on quiet country roads. A loving father is faced with losing his family because of his obsession/conviction. Scattered curse words include "hell," "s--t," and "bastard." Members of the military are mostly portrayed as unsympathetic and authoritarian, while scientists are characterized as open-minded, trusting, and intelligent. Richard Dreyfuss and Melinda Dillon co-star. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.

What's the Story?

In CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) and Jillian Guiler (Melinda Dillon) encounter a UFO and travel to its landing site in Devil's Tower, Wyoming. Jillian is seeking her son, who went bye-bye with the alien ship. Roy's obsession with the UFO sighting drives his family away. Inexplicably drawn to Devil's Tower, Roy and Jillian realize that they're not the only ones who feel they've been called there. French scientist Claude Lacombe (Francois Truffaut), top-secret U.S. government agents, and ordinary folks are there to meet an enormous spacecraft, which, when it shows up, returns humans taken over decades (including Jillian's son). When the aliens appear, Roy boldly boards the ship in an intergalactic exchange program. (In the reissue, which added some new scenes, viewers get a glimpse of the inside of the spacecraft.)

Talk to Your Kids About ...

  • Families can talk about the idea of life beyond our solar system in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Do you think there are other intelligent beings out there? Why or why not? If so, what do you think they're like, and do you think they'll ever come to Earth?

  • Talk about how aliens are usually portrayed in the movies. What does this movie do differently? What signs do you get that these aliens will be benevolent?

  • Was this movie scary? What were the scariest parts and why? How does music, lighting, etc. affect how scary a scene is?

  • How do the characters in Close Encounters of the Third Kind demonstrate perseverance and humility? Why are these important character strengths?

Close Encounters of the Third Kind Movie Review (2024)
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