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Home > Movies > The Day the Earth Stood Still

The Day the Earth Stood Still

(No longer in theaters)
  • Rating: PG-13 — for some sci-fi disaster images and violence
  • Director: Scott Derrickson   Cast: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates, John Cleese, Jaden Smith
  • Running Time: 110 minutes
  • Reader Rating: Write a Review




Paul Harris Boardman, Gregory Goodman, Erwin Stoff


20th Century Fox

Release Date

Dec 12, 2008

Release Notes


Official Website


The remake of that fine old fifties alien-invasion picture The Day the Earth Stood Still—a peacenik rejoinder to all the sci-fi movies in which E.T.’s stood in for soul-sapping Commies—comes to a standstill about an hour before the Earth does in the wilds of New Jersey. Trust me, folks, Jersey turns out to be the ultimate momentum killer: The main characters, among them “renowned scientist” Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) and an alien, Klaatu (Keanu Reeves), speed toward the Lincoln Tunnel—and yet, as in a bad dream, the tunnel seems to get farther and farther away. Just when we think they’re going to make it, they pull into a McDonald’s. Then they take a detour to talk philosophy with Professor Barnhardt (John Cleese), who lives deep in the Jersey woods. Meanwhile, the excellent-looking giant robot Gort, seemingly on the brink of going Godzilla on Manhattan, transforms into an unphotogenic swarm of CGI bugs and annihilates Giants Stadium. Atop their tanks in the city, members of various government forces look at their watches and noisily exhale.

Klaatu is a dream role for the beautifully blank Reeves, since he doesn’t even have to pretend to emote. Versed in the writing of Malcolm Gladwell, he announces that humans will have to be destroyed because Earth has reached the tipping point, although it isn’t clear if he means war, global warming, or the ascendancy of snark. “You treat the world as you treat each other,” he says. “We can change,” pleads Dr. Helen. Despite being shot, shelled, and chased into New Jersey, Klaatu believes her, perhaps because he knows that Obama will soon be president. As he walked to his spaceship, I had an overwhelming urge to call out: “Klaatu, Keanu. Keanu, Klaatu. Klaatu, Obama. Obama, Klaatu. Oprah, Keanu, Klaatu … ”