“Batteries Not Included” could have used more imaginative juices to distinguish it from other, more enchanting Spielbergian pics where lovable mechanical things solve earthly human dilemmas. Still, it’s suitable entertainment for kids.
Instead of the suburbs, Spielberg’s usual haunt, scene here is in one of the crumbling neighborhoods of Manhattan where some tenants of an old and much beloved brownstone are being harassed to move out so a sleek office/residential complex can go up in its place. The most stubborn of the holdouts is an irascible cafe owner (Hume Cronyn) and his senile wife (Jessica Tandy).
Before too long, Tandy is visited in the middle of the night by a couple of – that is, a male and female – miniature flying saucers which take their energy from the electrical outlets in the building and repair their parts with the tenants’ metal appliances. They also become little angels, repairing all that the local hoods have broken on any number of their rampages.
Led by the Cronyn-Tandy team, pic [based on a story by Mick Garris] has a good mix of personalities, even if perhaps Elizabeth Pena as an unwed mother may raise some questions in children’s minds their parents just as soon would not answer. Tech credits are terrific.