There's something a bit familiar about the premise of District 9 -- namely, the part where the human makes friends with the alien. Now, District 9 is a terrific movie, and director Neill Blomkamp delivered a lot of action, violence, pathos and kick-ass special effects on a relatively small budget.
But aliens? We've been friends with aliens before. In fact, this week marks the 25th anniversary DVD/Blu-ray release of The Last Starfighter, a low-budget fan favorite that sought to cash in on the popularity of both Star Wars and video games by sending an unsuspecting teen hero on a mission to save a distant galaxy. His recruiter-slash-buddy was Centauri, an intergalactic con man (played by Robert Preston, riffing on his Music Man persona in his last role).
Some of our other favorite aliens-as-friends movies:
1. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) -- Poor old Klaatu (Michael Rennie). He's just a middle manager sent to Earth to file a report on whether or not the galactic overlords should blow us to smithereens. His decision? To leave us be ... if we promise not to screw up.
2. The Brother From Another Planet (1984) -- John Sayles' underseen gem stars Joe Morton (currently of TV's Eureka) as an escaped slave from another world who crash-lands in Harlem. Unable to speak but a whiz with electronic gadgetry, he makes friends with the locals while eluding two men in black (Sayles and David Strathairn). If you've never seen this, you really should.