Retro Review: Flight Of The Navigator

A fun family science fiction adventure.

Synopsis: In 1978, a boy travels 8 years into the future and has an adventure with an intelligent, wisecracking alien ship.

Review: Made in 1986. Flight Of The Navigator is one of those rare science fiction films made with a family audience in mind and it is one that I fondly remember watching as a moody teen and thinking. It’s kind of cool.

The film has an element of time travel and somewhat of a mystery to it. The story starts on an average day in 1978 in which 12-year old David Freeman is trying to teach his dog. A strange looking mutt with odd-looking eyes how to play frisbee. He’s not having much luck.

Then we see David take a shortcut home through some woods nearby to a railway, but trips and falls. The next thing David knows is he is being picked up by Police in 1986. He’s lost eight years of his life and can’t account for the missing time.

The police take David home to his parents, but before he can even get settled he is taken into custody by the US Government and NASA to be studied, which is where the film’s story begins to unravel and we learn that David has been abducted by a strange Alien for study.

As 80s movies go. This movie still stands up pretty well. Obviously, there is the notable absence of smartphones and what have you, but they do not make the film any less appealing.

Joey Cramer who plays David is an engaging young actor who sadly didn’t transition into much of an adult acting career. Paul Reubens using the stage name of Paul Mall voices the spaceship’s A.I. otherwise known as Max and plays it to the max. While a young Sarah Jessica Parker plays the role of Carolyn a domestic worker at the NASA complex who takes pity on David and helps him escape via a somewhat fun but cheesy robotic service droid.

Although the fashion sense looks dated. The film is set in the 70s and 80s. The effects of the Spaceship hold up pretty well by today’s standards. I suspect this is down to the simplicity and elegance of the ship’s design. Also enjoyable is the movie’s soundtrack, which has an emotional oomph that dares you to go with it.

Overall. Flight of the Navigator holds up pretty well as a moderately entertaining family film. The performances from the cast are all engaging and fun and its a fun piece of nostalgia for older viewers to see a very young pre Sex In The City Sarah Jessica Parker.

Flight Of The Navigator
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Visual Effects
  • Incidental Music

Ian Cullen is the founder of and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: When he is not writing for Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of You can contact ian at:
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