*batteries not included (1987)

Film and Plot Synopsis

In the face of a heartless real estate developer’s sinister plan to remove the last five tenants from their crumbling apartment building, the desperate residents look for a miracle to save their cherished home from demolition. Just when all hope appears to fade, a wondrous event unfolds one night, as minuscule beings from beyond the stars gracefully enter through their windows, wielding magical powers that start to shift the tide in their favor.

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*Batteries Not Included [Blu-ray]

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‘*batteries not included’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
*batteries not included (1987)In New York City’s East Village, a rundown neighborhood is undergoing a transformation as developers plan to construct Lacey Plaza—a towering office and sports complex. Most blocks have been cleared, but there’s one four-story apartment building where some resolute residents refuse to budge, despite the developer’s enticing relocation offers. At the heart of this resistance are Frank and Faye Riley, an elderly couple who have called this building home for over five decades. They not only run a diner on the ground floor but also reside on the second floor, and the thought of leaving holds no appeal to them. Joining them are other tenants, like the struggling artist Mason Baylor, the expectant single woman Marisa Esteval, and the retired boxer Harry Noble.

The site’s developer, Mr. Lacey, doesn’t take kindly to the resistance and employs a gang of thugs led by a guy named Carlos. The thugs viciously vandalize the diner and several residents’ apartments, hoping to force them out. Mr. Lacey’s assistant, Kovacs, urges the residents to take the money offered, arguing that it’s their final chance. However, Frank Riley decides to involve the police, only to be warned that pressing charges may lead to dangerous retaliation once the thugs are released.

As the situation escalates, the elderly couple Sid and Muriel Hogenson, who have been helping Frank care for Faye, reluctantly give in to the pressure and decide to move to a retirement community in New Jersey after their apartment is also vandalized by Lacey’s thugs. With their support gone, Frank finds himself overwhelmed, especially as he has to handle Faye, who suffers from mild dementia. He contemplates calling the retirement community for assistance.

But amidst the chaos, something peculiar happens. Frank notices that some of the items broken by the thugs have mysteriously been repaired. To his surprise, other neighbors also report finding their damaged belongings fixed. This unexpected turn of events sparks curiosity and hope among the residents, leaving them wondering who could be behind these secret repairs and what their intentions might be.

One evening, Faye, who is cheerful but delusional, leads Frank and the others to the rooftop. There, she reveals two small flying saucer-like living objects, each about the size of a dinner plate, which she refers to as “The Fix-Its.” It becomes evident that these Fix-Its are the ones responsible for repairing the items around the building. Mason takes the initiative and contacts officials to inquire about missing Army technology.

As Frank and Marisa observe the Fix-Its, they ponder whether these strange creatures are actually aliens or if they are all caught in some surreal dream. They quickly discover that the Fix-Its have a mischievous nature, finding joy in plugging themselves into electrical outlets. The group starts interacting with the Fix-Its as if they were small children. Faye even “feeds” them with small screws, nuts, and bolts.

When Lacey’s henchman, Carlos, enters the building, he is shocked to see that all the destruction has been miraculously repaired. However, his amazement is cut short as the Fix-Its strike him on the head with a frying pan and later administer an electric jolt when he investigates their rooftop pigeon coop, where they reside.

Mason uses a magnifying glass to examine one of the Fix-Its and realizes it is constructed from various appliance parts. Frank advises caution, warning against probing too deeply into the Fix-Its’ origins, saying that questioning the miracle may destroy it. Nevertheless, the Fix-Its continue performing repairs around the building and even engage in an activity resembling reproduction. The tenants respond by arranging a series of extension cords to their rooftop pigeon coop, ensuring the Fix-Its can recharge.

A few days later, the female Fix-It appears to be pregnant and begins consuming electricity at an alarming rate, causing the building’s lights to flicker. Soon after, the female Fix-It “gives birth” to two small flying saucers, much to Mason’s excitement, who marvels at the idea of machines reproducing. However, a third, smaller flying saucer emerges, but it appears sickly and dies shortly after. Faye holds a heartfelt funeral, burying it in a flower pot on the roof. Mason suggests an autopsy to understand how the Fix-Its function, but this idea is met with outrage from the others.

Later, after everyone has left, Harry, the retired boxer, secretly exhumes the tiny Fix-It, salvages some spare parts, and endeavors to repair it on his own.

Meanwhile, Riley’s Cafe is flourishing, with Faye working as the waitress while Frank and the Fix-Its handle the cooking duties. Developer Lacey becomes incensed upon discovering that his construction workers are dining at the cafe he intends to demolish. He insists on evacuating the residents from the building within the next three days. Carlos assures him that he will take care of the task, but Lacey has other plans in motion.

Mason is taken aback when he realizes that Marisa, the pregnant tenant, has no idea about her due date as she hasn’t seen a doctor. Concerned, Mason goes grocery shopping and brings her several bags of food. During his visit to Marisa’s apartment, he is startled to find some of his paintings displayed there. Marisa agrees to pose for a portrait, but the session comes to an abrupt end when her boyfriend, Hector, and his bandmates arrive to serenade her before their show in Chicago, Illinois. After Hector leaves, a moment of jealousy prompts Mason to kiss Marisa, and she reciprocates.

Carlos forcibly enters the basement and wreaks havoc, smashing water and gas pipes with an ax and attempting to destroy the electrical circuit breakers. The adult male Fix-It intervenes, and Carlos attacks it with the ax, seemingly causing its demise. The tenants accuse Carlos of murder, and in the ensuing chaos, Harry dons his boxing gloves and starts assaulting him. Unfortunately, Faye, who is struggling with dementia, mistakes Carlos for her deceased son, Bobby, leading to her distress at witnessing him being beaten. Frank tries to remind her that Bobby passed away as a teenager in a car accident, but her condition renders her unable to comprehend the truth, indicating the progression of her dementia.

Amidst the turmoil, Harry manages to resurrect the third baby Fix-It, but the three babies escape, prompting the tenants to embark on a search for them. In Times Square, Harry uses a dog whistle and a bullhorn to call the baby Fix-Its, which are feeding on the neon lights and electricity in the area. Meanwhile, the adult female Fix-It performs a lifesaving surgery on the injured male Fix-It, successfully reviving it. Hearing the dog whistle, the adult Fix-Its make their way to Times Square to reunite with their offspring, and together as a family, they take flight and disappear into the horizon.

As one of Lacey’s henchmen sets up the building for detonation, Carlos becomes furious since it is his building to destroy, and a fight ensues between them. Amidst the chaos, Carlos realizes that Faye is still inside the building and quickly rushes to rescue her before the explosion. Despite his efforts, Faye adamantly refuses to leave and remains oblivious to her surroundings due to her condition. Carlos attempts to reason with her by impersonating her deceased son, but when she eventually snaps out of her delusion, he races against time to stop the bomb. Sadly, his efforts prove futile as the building erupts into flames. Nevertheless, Carlos manages to guide Faye to safety through the fire escape, moments before the building collapses.

The following day, a grief-stricken Harry sits on the front stoop, the sole remnant of the once-standing building. Lacey’s workers refuse to proceed with bulldozing the rest of the structure until Harry leaves, prompting them to leave for the day. However, during the night, the Fix-Its return, accompanied by numerous Fix-It friends. Together, they work tirelessly to reconstruct the apartment building overnight.

The next morning, the tenants awaken to the delightful surprise of having their homes restored, thanks to the miraculous efforts of the Fix-Its. Lacey is left with no choice but to adjust his plans, acknowledging that he will have to work around the rebuilt building. Subsequently, Lacey Plaza is constructed, with the apartment building at its center, making for a unique and unexpected outcome.

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Our Rating

Universal Pictures released *batteries not included on December 18, 1987. Matthew Robbins directed the film starring Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, and Frank McRae.

User Rating: 2.4 ( 1 votes)
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