Elliot, a withdrawn little boy discovers something mysterious in his backyard tool shed. He tells his family and friends, but they don’t believe him. However, they do go out with knives and flashlights – clearly out of mockery to help solve Elliot’s mystery, but there’s nothing to be found. Elliot is ridiculed and made fun of, alienating him even further.
It seems earlier that night, an unidentified flying saucer (U.F.O.) landed on Earth in which aliens aboard were sent out to collect samples from a forest close to the quiet neighborhood where Elliot and his family reside. During their visit, a certain alien wandered a little too far away from the ship, in fact, the alien wandered so far that when humans came to intercept their venture, the ship had to immediately take off to avoid capture – leaving one of their own behind. The stranded alien was being pursued by the persistent humans and was eventually chased out from the forest into the nearby suburbs and hid in a backyard tool shed.
Elliot knew that there was something in the tool shed; he literally came face-to-face with it. So the next night, Elliot decided to sleep in a lawn chair with his sleeping bag and a flashlight, hoping to see again what he saw the night before and sure enough…it had returned.
Elliot, not knowing for sure what he had encountered, lured the strange creature into his house with Reese’s Pieces candies, making a trail for the obvious intelligent, but very mysterious being to follow. Elliot made the candy trail all the way to his bedroom closet where he would keep it until morning; that’s when he’ll figure out what to do with it.
The next morning isn’t going to be easy, first Elliot is going to have to convince his mother that he is not well enough to go to school. Elliot tricks his mother into believing that he is running a fever. He did this by placing the thermometer next to a heated lit desk lamp light bulb. After fooling his mother, Elliot went and retrieved his new finding and soon discovered that it was an extra-terrestrial, and for that, Elliot named the alien E.T.
E.T. and Elliot had a hard time communicating at first, but that all changed when the two of them developed some kind of bond telepathically– they each knew what the other one knew and felt. Elliot understood that E.T. was left here on Earth accidentally and was three million light years away from his home planet.
Elliot was going to help E.T. return to his home world, so when E.T. created some sort of “homemade communication device”, Elliot helped him set it up in the forest. Elliot stood out all night with E.T. in hopes to reach his own species and even fell asleep, but the next morning when Elliot awoke; E.T. was nowhere to be found. Elliot searched for E.T. but could not find him and eventually returned home without him. Elliot’s mother was worried all night long after realizing that Elliot hadn’t returned home and that morning was filing a Missing Persons Report with the local law enforcement when Elliot strolled in. Elliot wasn’t looking well and didn’t have the strength to continue searching for E.T., which is why he had to come home. He told his brother Michael that E.T. was still in the forest; probably lost, and to go find him and bring him back home.
Michael went into the forest and found the homemade communication device that E.T. had been constructing but found no E.T. Michael went further into the forest where he happened to spot E.T and was looking a bit pale and sickly and was lying practically face down in a river. Michael quickly came to E.T.’s aid and at the same time noticing the helicopters that were circling above and who were obviously searching for the alien life form also.
When Michael brought E.T. back to the house, he laid him down next to Elliot in the bathroom. Elliot’s younger sister Gertie watched over them until Michael returned with their mother. She was instantly frightened and gathered her children to leave the house but before she stepped foot out the door, the government had already surrounded the home. The helicopters must have followed Michael from the forest river when he saved E.T. and brought him back to the house. They found the homemade communication device that E.T. had built.
E.T. had to sever the bond he had telepathically with Elliot because he was about to die. Since the two of them were bonded so tightly with one another, if either one of them were to die the other would surely die also. When the bond was finally broken between the two of them, Elliot miraculously recovered while E.T. fell medically worse and eventually died.
When the government was about to seal up and haul away E.T.’s body for further studies, Elliot discovered that E.T. had resurrected from the dead and a ship was on its way to take him home. So Elliot and Michael carjacked a van with E.T. and met up with a few friends from the neighborhood. From there they rode their bikes through the neighborhood, avoiding government capture who were right on their heels and slowly catching up to them.
It wasn’t until the last-minute, when the government had surely had them; E.T. used some sort of telekinesis and lifted his entire rescue party out of harm’s way and safely into the air. They flew to the spot where E.T. was supposed to get picked up.
When the ship arrived, it was an emotional good-bye between the new-found friends. Michael, the few friends, the mother and a government agent watched as E.T. boarded his ship and slowly lift off into space.