When studios don’t screen movies it’s usually a bad sign. When they screen films almost two weeks in advance there tends to be more hope. Don’t let the advance viewing of Earth to Echo fool you — it’s not good. It rips off The Goonies, Explorers, and Super 8, while smothering it with an extra layer of Mac and Me. Director Dave Green and writer Henry Gayden don’t have an original bone in their bodies and it shows in every frame of the painfully long-feeling 91-minute run-time. Just when we thought the found footage sub-genre couldn’t get any worse, the cameras are handed over to a group of obnoxious kids.
Pre-teens Alex (Teo Halm), Tuck (Brian “Astro” Bradley), and Munch (Reese C. Hartwig) are dealing with the growing pains of having to move away from each other. A construction company is breaking ground on a new freeway and has bought out all the houses that stand in their way. One day, all of their phones start going haywire or “barfing” — the film’s terminology, not mine — and the trio of boys discover that the encrypted phone messages lead to a mysterious alien robot they nickname Echo. Soon enough, they hit the road, venturing through their Nevada town to locate the rest of Echo’s parts it needs to act as a key to a hidden spaceship with a dastardly construction worker (Jason Gray-Stanford) hot on their heels.
Train wreck sums up Earth to Echo perfectly. Tuck talks like a street thug for no apparent reason other than he happens to be the token black character. And Munch acts like he’s the twin brother to Diary of a Wimpy Kid’s Rowley. Meanwhile, Gray-Stanford appears to have recently graduated from ACTING! The filmmakers are completely oblivious to the amount of breaking and entering the boys commit, including sneaking into classmate Emma’s (Ella Wahlestedt) house.
At least director Green doesn’t try to sexualize her during the course of the movie, although Munch continually refers to her as “mannequin girl” because he thinks mannequins are hot. Featuring no consequences whatsoever to the boys’ actions, Earth to Echo is an offensive waste of time and it’s no wonder Disney washed their hands of it. The Mouse House may have financed and produced the film, but you won’t find their name anywhere near it. To use phrasing the film’s target audience might understand, I Super H8d this movie.
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