Notice: All forms on this website are temporarily down for maintenance. You will not be able to complete a form to request information or a resource. We apologize for any inconvenience and will reactivate the forms as soon as possible.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Content Caution



In Theaters


Home Release Date




Caleb Gottry

Movie Review

[Note: Close Encounters of the Third Kind is returning to theaters July 7 and 10, 2024, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Columbia Pictures.]

Indiana blue-collar worker Roy Neary is called into work one late night as mysterious power outages plague the city. While stopped at a railroad track, a bright light shines above him and gusts of wind blow through his car as everything electronic in it inexplicably turns on.

It was a UFO hovering above him. Roy’s certain. After his encounter, he’s sunburnt and plagued with visions of a strange looking mountain.

His wife, Ronnie, thinks he’s certifiably crazy. But he’s not alone in his compulsive need to understand what happened to him.

Jillian Guiler lost her young son to bright blue and red lights. One moment her giggling and carefree preschooler was with her. The next, he was gone, swept away by those lights.

Extraterrestrials took her boy. Jillian’s certain. And she too has developed an overwhelming interest in that same strange-looking mountain.

Jillian and Roy eventually join forces and follow their almost spiritual calling to that mysterious place: Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.

The only problem? The United States government is there, too. Turns out its agents are looking for the same answers. In fact, they’re investigating why a number of 1945 Navy pilots mysteriously disappeared.

The government isn’t interested in competition when it comes to finding those answers. But Jillian and Roy are too determined to find their own answers to let the evacuation of the area deter them.

And after all of their close encounters, Jillian, Roy, and United States military officials wait in Wyoming to witness and communicate with the extraterrestrials.

Positive Elements

Roy Neary’s perseverance is certainly commendable, as well as his search for knowledge. He rejects government lies and military propaganda to find his own answers.

Jillian Guiler shows Roy’s same perseverance, driven instead by a desire to find her son. Her despondence at his disappearance speaks to her love as a mother. [Spoiler Warning: And her love is ultimately rewarded when this tenacious mother is reunited with her boy.]

While many military and government officials want Roy and Jillian to leave their site, scientist Claude Lacombe argues that the two are entitled to answers.

Roy has some familial issues, but he clearly still tries to care for his kids. He reassures them that he’s “still Dad” even in his obsessiveness. Roy’s wife, Ronnie, also tries to do what’s best for the couple’s children, although she believes that means “protecting” them from their seemingly crazy father.

Spiritual Elements

A military official says he believes in life elsewhere. He says mental telepathy, time travel, immortality and Santa Claus are all ideas that would be fun to believe in.

Military men joke that Wyoming has sacred cows. In the same conversation, they say they need a disaster that will clear every living Christian soul.

Multiple “ordinary” people have visions of Devil’s Tower in great detail.

Roy Neary yells at the sky in frustration, seemingly trying to ask the aliens what is going on.

Before a group of people potentially board an alien spaceship, they attend a liturgical Christian ceremony. The chaplain prays for safety on the journey and that each person’s holy angel would watch over them.

A five-note musical expression is repeated many times at different speeds, and it, too, has the feel of something like a religious expression. Hindu people seem to meditate or pray as they sing the five notes all together.

We hear that the Neary children are going to watch the movie The Ten Commandments.

Sexual Content

Roy and his wife, Ronnie, kiss passionately.

Jillian wears a mostly unbuttoned and midriff baring top and pulls it open slightly more to show the center of her sunburned chest. Jillian wears a wedding ring, but her husband seems to be out of the picture.

Roy and Jillian share a long embrace and a kiss.

Violent Content

Though there’s not actually a lot of violence in the movie, early scenes as the mystery of the aliens is revealed have a very tense—and at times, very threatening—feel to them. Encounters with the alien’s spacecraft include strong winds, loud noise, flashing lights and inanimate objects seemingly coming to life.

Some animals appear dead. Later, we learn they are only drugged. Looney Tunes plays on a TV showing some cartoon violence. Roy Neary is often an extremely reckless driver.

A mother’s house is broken into, and her son is stolen by an alien presence despite her struggling to hold him back.

Crude or Profane Language

God’s name is abused about 10 times. We hear the s-word four times, “h—” six times, and “d–n” thrice (including once with “God”). “Suckers,” “b–tard,” and “jacka–” are all used at least once.

Drug and Alcohol Content

A Budweiser commercial is heard and seen on the TV.

A military officer smokes.

To clear the area the military wants to use, government officials consider introducing a rumor of a pandemic. Instead, they spread a rumor about noxious gas and use “EZ Dust” (a sedative) to knock out the animals and one man who was following Roy and Jillian (both of whom they were unable to drug).

Other Negative Elements

In an early scene, Roy and Ronnie argue while their kids act rebelliously in staying up past their bedtime.

The couple’s arguments worsen as the movie progresses (and the kids argue a fair bit, too when we see them). Ronnie refuses to believe her husband and even cuts an article about UFOs out of the paper to still Roy’s obsession.

When Roy starts acting even crazier, he refuses to explain his actions to Ronnie. So she takes the kids with her to her sister’s house—a choice that seems fairly sane in context. Roy calls later and, though we can only hear his side of the conversation, the consensus seems to be that they’re not planning on coming back or further discussing their issues anytime soon.

After kissing a woman that is not his wife, Roy seems more than happy to leave her and his family behind on Earth.


Many of us can likely still sing back the five iconic extraterrestrial tones that further cemented the now long-time collaboration between Steven Spielberg and John Williams.

Unfortunately, like many 20th century classics, the rest of the movie may have elements older viewers may have forgotten about.

A young Richard Dreyfuss plays a character that seems to only care about finding answers for himself, causing some less-than-ideal family circumstances. The outcome of this personal quest, while obviously very important to him, also craters his marriage beyond repair, it would seem.

In addition, the profanities and otherworldly thematic elements likely would yield a PG-13 rating for Close Encounters of the Third Kind if it were released today.

Yes, this early Steven Spielberg effort is a classic. But it’s intense enough in spots that you’ll want to exercise caution before bringing your kids to the theater for its July 2024 rerelease—or even before queueing it up at home.

The Plugged In Show logo
Elevate family time with our parent-friendly entertainment reviews! The Plugged In Podcast has in-depth conversations on the latest movies, video games, social media and more.
Caleb Gottry

Caleb Gottry is the Plugged In intern for Summer 2024. Caleb studies journalism with a minor in music at Texas Christian University, where he will be a junior in the fall. He loves playing with words, listening to and making music, and spending any spare time with friends or family.