On a distant moon of Saturn, an family of aliens is wandering the surface looking for something to eat when a probe from planet Earth lands and they cluster around it, intrigued. They notice the machine is taking rock samples, but their curiosity is to their cost as they are all four of them suddenly sucked up by an attachment, whereupon the probe takes off and returns to its home planet. When the scientists get it back to their lab, they are shocked when the aliens tumble from inside and manage to walk straight through the doors and out of the base. However, they have been split up, as the youngest child forges ahead on his own...
When E.T. The Extraterrestrial was released, there was an interesting effect in terms of merchandising, interesting to corporations with advertising budgets to burn, at any rate. Everybody knew by now thanks to Star Wars that tie-in toys and goods meant big profits, hence all those E.T. dolls flying off the shelves, but the candy featured in the blockbuster that the little alien liked to eat saw a huge rise in sales. This was evidently not lost on the manufacturers of McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Skittles, because after five years of others' child-friendly attempts to replicate the success of E.T., they decided to fund a project that would place their product in a flattering light.
Hence Mac and Me (Mac meaning the alien rather than the burger, although after a while you won't be so sure) was very much in the tradition of those cartoon series that proliferated in the eighties, all designed to sell to children except they were usually designed to shift toys, not bad dietary habits. Watching this film you'll be amazed that such blatant conning could be allowed, as Mac the "Mysterious Alien Creature" lives on Coca-Cola, packets of Skittles appear in closeup, and as a treat we are offered a dance number at the characters' local McDonald's that takes up five whole minutes of the movie.
Not that the plot is much to write home about, the result of stretching out a commercial to feature length. Actually that's not strictly true, as the plot was a very successful one: when Steven Spielberg used it in E.T., that is, but here replicating whole scenes from that moneyspinner has the effect of making this come off second best, or third or even hundredth best in the cash-in stakes. Mac himself resembles a rubber puppet cross between a startled Peter Lorre and Salacious Crumb from Return of the Jedi, and never comes to life as a living, breathing entity like his predecessor did. His best friend is Eric (Jade Calegory), a genuine wheelchair user whose inclusion here looks suspiciously like exploitation, as if to play up a charitable angle to make the businesses involved look better.
There are government agents on the creature's tail, but before they catch up with him Mac makes his mark with acts of outright vandalism on the boy's new home, drilling holes in a dividing wall, chainsawing up in the back door and ruining the lounge by filling it with plants from the garden - somehow Eric's mother (Christine Ebersole) believes her disabled son did all that. Eric has a brother called Michael (Jonathan Ward) who can helpfully drive, so they can get Mac to his family who somehow managed to avoid detection at the base, despite not being able to move quickly thanks to what seems to be a terrible case of piles. They are lost in the desert, and can only be saved by, no, not water, but a drink of Coke, which they gulp down through their little round mouths, as if designed for a straw. By the end of this ghastly exercise in huckstering, you'll be only too pleased that the threatened sequel never occured, and the boggle-eyed little nudist was banished to oblivion. Music by Alan Sivestri.