Flight of the Navigator with Amma Marfo

This Is Why We're Like This



Dec. 10, 2019, 11:33 a.m.

Amma Marfo, a comedian and comedy critic, invites Geoffrey and Julia to break in their brand new Disney+ accounts by watching Flight of the Navigator, a movie about a boy’s adventure on a spaceship. Amma grew up in Florida (where this movie is set) and went to space camp! Wow!

Image description: Screenshot of the Disney+ home screen for Flight of the Navigator, featuring Joey (age 12) staring up at the spaceship inside the NASA research facility.

Julia and Geoffrey were excited to do this one as they both also had strong memories of it. So, in a rare move, EVERYONE wrote a hazy summary!

Here’s Amma’s to start:

“There are puppets or animatrons or something in this, that I know. I remember being freaked out that a kid is in a coma of sorts, and the rest of the world keeps going on around him. Maybe he went to space in that time? Maybe he thought he did? Either way, I'm pretty sure he goes back to space with the puppets/animatrons.”

Image description: A space puppet.

Here’s how Geoffrey remembered it:

“It's the 1960s (the clean innocent part, not the drugs-war-sex part) and off-brand Elliot from ET is on vacation maybe with family and has a crush on a girl.  Then things happen and he's in the 1980's. He disappeared or was asleep? Anyway, he's at a NASA lab now and learning about Twisted Sister (doesn't like them) and the government's experimenting on him.  They also have a UFO. He sneaks off onto the UFO, and it turns out that the ship has a friendly wacky dentist lamp robot who runs it and goes around collecting things, including cute goo monsters. Not-Elliot for some reason has the navigation data the ship needs, so they go on a fun journey and turn the ship invisible and make it longer and more streamlined for advanced flight, and then go back in time so alter-Elliot can get killed in Vietnam or something and maybe almost he thinks it was all a dream except he still has a cute goo monster pet now?”

Image description: Joey looking really unimpressed with Twisted Sister.

And finally, Julia’s take:

“There’s a boy who goes on a really cool spaceship when he’s twelve in … I think the 70s because his mom drinks TAB?? and then several years pass on earth but for him it’s really quick. When he gets back home, he’s actually been missing and the entire world has changed. His little sister is now his big sister. His family is traumatized from having a missing child, and no one can explain why he didn’t age, but they try to assimilate him back into their lives. There’s also New Coke, which is a big deal. Eventually he goes back on the spaceship to have another adventure and try to go back in time so he won’t actually have gone missing. I think it works? Also I think there are fireworks at one point? And I think the sister is a SUPER COOL eighties teen in the future part.”

Image description: Sarah Jessica Parker as Carolyn McAdams, a SUPER COOL eighties teen.

We were fascinated to see how all of us took away different things from this one! And we were all right! And also, all wrong! Nobody was in a coma, the kid was never on vacation and definitely never thinks it was all a dream, there’s no TAB at all, and New Coke was mentioned literally once as part of a list of Coke options.

Julia was also conflating the main character’s little brother (who is a big brother in the future part) with a random intern at NASA played by Sarah Jessica Parker. But to be fair, Sarah Jessica Parker was a SUPER COOL eighties teen in this movie.

We talk about a bunch of stuff with this one, including whether this movie is more like Captain EO or Star Tours (or maybe… Soarin’???), and about how great an idea it is to use a 12-year-old as a USB drive despite the fact that the idea that we only use 10% of our brains is not true at all.

Geoffrey also revealed that the dad used to be in a psychedelic band called Clear Light. Here’s their single, Black Roses.

After we got through our usual questions, we had a little verisimilitude Q&A with Amma about the realism of this movie’s portrayal of Florida and NASA. Because if you have the chance to interrogate a Florida native who went to space camp, you don’t wanna waste it! For more Amma awesomeness, you can check out her website, and follow @ammamarfo on Twitter and Instagram!

Bonus: here are some Flight of the Navigator fun facts straight from Disney!

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