Mac and Me

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Mac and Me
Mac and me movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stewart Raffill
Produced by
Written by
  • Steve Feke
  • Stewart Raffill
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Nick McLean
Edited by Tom Walls
  • New Star Entertainment
  • Vision International
Distributed by Orion Pictures
Release date
  • August 12, 1988 (1988-08-12)
Running time
99 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Box office $6.4 million[2]

Mac and Me is a 1988 American science fiction adventure film co-written (with Steve Feke) and directed by Stewart Raffill. The film is about a "Mysterious Alien Creature" (MAC) that escapes from nefarious NASA agents and is befriended by a boy who is confined to a wheelchair due to paraplegia. Together, they try to find MAC's family, from whom he has been separated. The film stars Jade Calegory (in his only film appearance), Christine Ebersole, Jonathan Ward, Katrina Caspary, and Lauren Stanley and Jennifer Aniston in film debut.

The decision to create the film was based solely on the success of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). The title comes from the working title for E.T.E.T. and Me.[3] Some have considered it to be one of the worst films ever made, although it has become a cult classic.[citation needed]


A NASA spacecraft has landed on an unknown planet and begins to take rock and soil samples. Four aliens discover it and are sucked up through its vacuum, after which it makes its way back to Earth. The aliens are able to escape from a military base by using their powers (with which they can destroy or heal anything they touch). During the escape, the youngest one hides in a passing van, occupied by a wheelchair-bound boy named Eric Cruise, his older brother, Michael, and their single mother, Janet, who are moving to California from Illinois.

Shortly after the Cruise family arrives at their new home, Eric becomes suspicious of the alien's presence. The next morning, he finds that the creature ends up ruining much of the house and learns its identity, but is blamed alongside his brother by their mother for what has happened. After seeing the creature again, Eric tries to catch up to him, but ends up sliding down a hill and falls into a lake, where he nearly drowns, but is rescued by the alien. Eric is not believed at all when he tries to tell his family about the creature's actions.

Later that night, he sets a trap with the help of his new friend, Debbie, who had also seen the alien. The two trap him inside a vacuum cleaner, which malfunctions and causes the entire neighborhood to suffer a power surge. After the alien is released, Michael now believes Eric, but it leaves before Janet can be convinced. Eric's behavior towards the alien changes after he fixes all of the damage he caused to the house, and leaves behind several newspaper clippings which Eric believes are an attempt to communicate.

FBI agents Wickett and Zimmerman, who had been present when the four aliens had escaped from the base, have tracked down the youngest one to the Cruise residence. The two are immediately recognized by Eric and Michael. Eric is forced to take the alien, whom he has now named MAC (Mysterious Alien Creature), to a birthday party at the McDonald's where Debbie's older sister, Courtney, works. Wickett and Zimmerman follow, but, now disguised in a teddy suit, MAC starts a dance number as a distraction and escapes with Eric on his wheelchair. After Wickett and Zimmerman chase them through a nearby neighborhood and shopping mall with additional help, they are rescued by Michael. After catching up with the agents, Janet inadvertently learns from Wickett that MAC is indeed real.

Eric, Michael, Debbie, and Courtney decide to help reunite MAC with the other three aliens, revealed to be his family. With MAC's help, they travel towards the outskirts of Palmdale, California and manage to find them in an abandoned mine. While stopping at a gas station, they accidentally alert security. After MAC's father steals a gun from a security guard, the police arrive and an unintended shootout takes place in the parking lot followed by an explosion, with Eric being caught in the crossfire and killed. Once Wickett, Zimmerman, and Janet arrive by helicopter, MAC and his family use their powers to bring Eric back to life.

For saving Eric, MAC and his family are granted citizenship, with the Cruise family, their neighbors, as well as Wickett and Zimmerman in attendance at the ceremony.

The film's final scene shows MAC's father driving his family, along with the kids who helped them. MAC, who is chewing gum, blows a bubble that bears the message, "We'll be back!" (A reference to the planned sequel that was later cancelled.)[4]



Producer R.J. Louis had previously worked on advertising campaigns with McDonald's, and had an association with their charitable arm, Ronald McDonald House Charities. He explained that at the time, Ronald McDonald was "even more [well-known] than Santa Claus", but that E.T. was close behind, and thus felt that the next "generation" needed an E.T. of their own. McDonald's did not finance the film, and Louis was required to negotiate the rights to use the brand and its elements within the film. He pitched the project as a cross-promotional endeavor which could be promoted at its restaurants, and with its profits helping to support Ronald McDonald House Charities.[6] While he did not receive financing from McDonald's, he did receive funding from Golden State Foods, a food service distributor closely associated with McDonald's; Louis had encountered its CEO in his efforts to pitch the film, and was attracted by its charitable goals.[6] Despite McDonald's specifying that they did not want Ronald McDonald to appear in the film, he nonetheless appeared in a scene set at a McDonald's restaurant, which featured an extended dance sequence.[6]

Louis noted that he was one of the first to leverage the chain as a platform for promoting films; Disney would later enter into a long-term deal with McDonald's to cross-promote its properties, such as films, through in-store campaigns such as Happy Meal toy distribution, although this relationship ended in 2006 amid pressure to reduce the promotion of junk food to children.[7] Despite this, Louis remarked that he was "still the only person in the universe that ever had the exclusive motion picture rights to the McDonald's trademark, their actors, their characters, and the whole company."[6]

Stewart Raffill was brought on as director, despite the film not even having a script written yet. Raffill remarked that he wrote the script in a hotel room while on pre-production. The crew aimed to distinguish the film from E.T. by having Mac be a member of a family, and having powers and skills.[6] In one notable scene, Jade Calegory's character is seen rolling off a cliff in his wheelchair; Raffill noted that he performed a portion of the stunt himself, explaining that "it's very hard to do physical things when you're in that condition. It's very hard to make a wheelchair work, because it's not a very balanced thing. When you start going fast in a wheelchair, you place tremendous risk on the child, so you have to try and figure out how to do that in a controlled fashion."[6]



The film's soundtrack album was released by Curb Records, featuring one track from its musical score by Alan Silvestri[8] and the theme song "Take Me (I'll Follow You)" by Bobby Caldwell.[9]

Track listing:

  1. "You're Not a Stranger Anymore (Theme from Mac and Me)" - Jara Lane (3:42)
  2. "Take Me (I'll Follow You)" - Bobby Caldwell (5:32)
  3. "You Knew What You Were Doing (Every Inch of the Way)" - Marcy Levy (3:30)
  4. "Down to Earth" - Ashford and Simpson (5:27)
  5. "Waves" - Debbie Lytton (3:44)
  6. "Send Out a Signal" - Larry Hart (4:31)
  7. "Wait and Break My Heart Tomorrow" - The Flint River Band (4:40)
  8. "Overture (Theme From Mac and Me)" - Alan Silvestri (4:24)

In 2014, Quartet Records released a limited edition disc (1000 copies) of Silvestri's complete score.[10] The disc also includes "You're Not A Stranger Anymore (Theme From Mac and Me)" and "Take Me (I'll Follow You)," which Silvestri co-wrote for the film.


Box office

The film was considered a box office bomb,[citation needed] grossing $6,424,112 in the United States.[2] It had a profit-sharing arrangement with Ronald McDonald House Charities.[11]

Critical response

The film was panned by critics for the similarity of its plot, characters, and even the design of the alien, to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.[11][12] The film also criticized for its numerous and blatant product placements, including Coca-Cola and Skittles (the only food MAC eats), Sears (where Janet works), and pervasive promotion of McDonald's.[13] The contrivance of the "Mysterious Alien Creature" being referred to by the acronym "MAC", a five-minute dance number in a McDonald's featuring Ronald McDonald (credited as "himself"), and the use of him to introduce the film's theatrical trailer, led Leonard Maltin to describe it as being "more like a TV commercial than a movie".[14] Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 0% rating, based on 23 reviews, with the site's consensus stating: "Mac and Me is duly infamous: not only is it a pale imitation of E.T., it's also a thinly-veiled feature length commercial for McDonald's and Coca-Cola."[3]

While the use of a handicapped protagonist was praised,[5] the film received criticism for the "irresponsible" treatment of the character.[12]

Cancelled sequel

The film ends with a freeze frame and the words "We'll be back!" superimposed, but after egregious reviews and box office returns, the planned sequel was thought to be cancelled permanently.[4]


1988 Golden Raspberry Awards
1988 Young Artist Awards


The film has gained a measure of notoriety due to a running gag by actor Paul Rudd. When appearing as a guest on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and O'Brien's later show Conan, Rudd would perform a "bait-and-switch" by always showing the same melodramatic and poorly staged clip from the film (in which Eric, watched by MAC, loses control of his wheelchair and falls off a cliff into a lake) instead of showing clips from the actual films he was ostensibly promoting.[15][16]

See also

  • My Little Bossings, a 2013 Filipino family comedy film similarly criticized for extensive product placement


  1. ^ "Mac and Me (U)". British Board of Film Classification. July 22, 1988. Retrieved August 21, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Mac and Me at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ a b Mac and Me at Rotten Tomatoes
  4. ^ a b "Sequel Baiting Endings That Didn't Work". Empire. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  5. ^ a b "When he tires of answering questions about why he's in a wheelchair, he simply dead-pans: 'Vietnam.' : Out-of-This-World Career Still in Cards for 'Mac and Me' Star". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-05-15. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Patches, Matt (2017-04-03). "How McDonald's Insane 'E.T.' Rip-off Got Made (and Bombed)". Thrillist. Retrieved 2017-12-11. 
  7. ^ Abramowitz, Rachel (2006-05-08). "Disney Loses Its Appetite for Happy Meal Tie-Ins". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-12-11. 
  8. ^ "Mac and Me". 1988. 
  9. ^ Bobby Caldwell - Film Usage
  10. ^ "MAC AND ME – Alan Silvestri". Quartet Records. 
  11. ^ a b "Movie Review Mac and Me Takes a Big McBite Out of E.T." The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-05. 
  12. ^ a b "Review/Film; 'MAC and Me,' Family From a Distant Planet". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  13. ^ "Movies; Branded Into the Scenery; Commentary: Advertising is so much a part of life that it's understandable to find familiar products in films. But sometimes it goes too far". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  14. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2003). Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide 2004. Signet. ISBN 0-451-20940-0. 
  15. ^ Michael Adams (2010). Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies: A Film Critic's Year-Long Quest to Find the Worst Movie Ever Made. Harper Collins. p. 247. ISBN 0061966312. 
  16. ^ Rowles, Dustin (Dec 13, 2013). "Did You Know That the Amazing Paul Rudd Has Quietly Been Pulling Off One of the Longest Running Jokes in Late-Night History?". 

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