Well, for one, the title makes no sense. Earth to Echo might be the thing to call a sequel to this rather shameless mashup of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and The Goonies, but it refers to absolutely nothing here that we can see. Three tween pals in Nevada — Alex (Teo Halm), Tuck (Brian “Astro” Bradley), and Chunk Munch (Reese Hartwig) — set off on a mysterious treasure hunt directed by strange maps that appear on their cell phones and discover a tiny alien robot-creature they dub Echo (for how it echoes their voices) who needs their help to reassemble some sort of device so it can, presumably, get off the planet and get home. Echo might be calling out to Earth for help, but the reverse isn’t happening… though I suspect the title is echoing, consciously or not, E.T.’s “Phone home,” as is the enigmatic and rather menacing man (Jason Gray-Stanford: Flags of Our Fathers) chasing the boys around who seems to know about their new secret friend. The thin plot makes little attempt to string together its many elements in plausible ways; how a token girl, Emma (Ella Wahlestedt), is shoved into the story is almost embarrassing; the found-footage conceit strains credulity; and the big thing hanging over the boys’ heads, that their neighborhood is about to be demolished to make way for a superhighway, ends up not making much sense in the end, because it indicates that the adults aren’t the clueless dolts the story needs them to be in order for the kids to have had their adventure in the first place. This is an inoffensive time-passer for youngsters, but adult genre fans who recall the 80s classics it draws on will be bored. And, in fact, there’s no reason why little kids wouldn’t be better off passing the time with E.T. and The Goonies, either.
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