On Friday, March 11, Disney is releasing 'Mars Needs Moms,' a film which, while perhaps unfortunately titled, is actually a terrific piece of family-friendly science fiction. More than just being fun and thrilling and sentimental in all the right places, the film recalls the heyday of Amblin Entertainment, when Steven Spielberg and his colleagues were firing on all pistons creating entertainment that had not just populist appeal or technical precision but real sophistication – a level of intelligence and intensity that flirts at the edge of being too mature, but never quite goes too far.

As such, it seemed appropriate to pick a title for this week's column that connected 'Mars Needs Moms' with the kinds of movies that it's clearly trying to evoke, if not outright emulate. And even though movies like Joe Dante's 'The Explorers' or Randall Kleiser's 'Flight of the Navigator' share a lot more immediate conceptual similarities to Simon Wells' forthcoming film, it was unavoidable that 'E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,' Spielberg's watershed family film, be this week's choice.