This film mixes feelings of brotherly love, familial connection, and the feeling of separation and isolation all in a single film. By setting up a competitive relationship of ribbing and snide remarks between David and his brother Jeff, it makes the rest of the film all the more poignant, etched with a deep layer of realism. The longing, regret, and pure heartache this sets up is real to the point where it suspends our disbelief for the entire rest of the storyline.
Watching this movie brought me back to when I was young, having found the movie on TV and begged my Mom to let me stay up late to watch the end. Little did I know how much the story would remind me of my relationship with my brother, and how much it would parallel my eventual departure from my own family. I wasn't brought on a crazy journey by an alien spacecraft, but I did go out seeking my own path only to be brought back years later and much the wiser. It's amazing how much you miss your family, and this movie really brings that feeling out.
Between the memories of watching it as a child and the parallels I feel between the story and my own life (oblique as they may be), I think this movie simply overloads my nostalgia receptors. Not to say that I dislike the movie, but it's definitely an emotionally draining experience after which I always feel the need to call my family. However, I have a nagging suspicion that's exactly the point of the film... to tap into those feelings of guilt brought by distance and time, and true strength of the familial connection.
Long story short, go check this movie out if you haven't already. It's a classic 80s/90s film, and perfect for siblings born in that era. Give it a watch with your brother or sister, give them a huge hug, then go call your mother and father ya brat.