I have a vague recollection of seeing this one in theaters on its initial run, and -- yes, yes, and yes -- I do remember being a bit disappointed. The story as crafted by Mick Garris, Brad Bird, director Matthew Robbins, Brent Maddock, and S.S. Wilson wasn't all that original except for its inclusion of these wacky little robot creatures. There had been a never-ending stream of flicks exploring tenant dwellings and evil landlords, but this one put the spin on it involving these mechanical aliens ... so how's that for inserting something fresh into the mix? Meh. It just didn't work for me.
But ... dare I say?
Had I been about ten years younger, then this one might very well have tickled my fancy quite nicely. These airborne robots were quite fetching, so much so that I have to wonder why there wasn't any major attempt at merchandising the heck out of these things? Given the measure of success Star Wars had, one would think that Batteries would've been a natural. Granted, the additional of blinking lights and sound chips might have made them a bit cost-prohibitive for the time, and yet I can't imagine the parents passing up the opportunity to gift little Dick or Jane something like a cute little robot under the Christmas tree for the holidays. Seriously? Were there actually no toys? I don't recall any.
Now, granted, this release was reasonably late in the year for merchandising -- who knew if it would actually be a hit with audiences, so I can understand some suits being understandably shy to go 'all-in,' as they say -- but I can't help but wonder if a small toy line might've helped give this one the robotic legs it needed to endure. It's largely a forgotten feature these days -- well, if the Information Superhighway is an adequate barometer of such things -- and a quick search of the web suggests that it grossed upwards of $65M on a budget of $25M. Perhaps those returns weren't exactly what was hoped, so maybe this one was better off in the 'sleeper hit' category that tends to reward Holiday releases with respectable returns but not much else.
In any event, Happpy Birthday to you, Batteries Not Included! Here's hoping I looked as quaint and wholesome at 36 as you do today!