A NASA spacecraft has landed on an unknown planet and begins to take rock and soil samples. Four aliens discover it and are sucked up through its vacuum, after which it makes its way back to Earth. The aliens are able to escape from a military base by using their powers (with which they can destroy or heal anything they touch). During the escape, the youngest one hides in a passing van, occupied by a wheelchair-bound boy named Eric Cruise, his older brother, Michael, and their single mother, Janet, who are moving to California from Illinois.
Shortly after the Cruise family arrives at their new home, Eric becomes suspicious of the alien's presence. The next morning, he finds that the creature ends up ruining much of the house and learns its identity, but is blamed alongside his brother by their mother for what has happened. After seeing the creature again, Eric tries to catch up to him, but ends up sliding down a hill and falls into a lake, where he nearly drowns, but is rescued by the alien. Eric is not believed at all when he tries to tell his family about the creature's actions.
Later that night, he sets a trap with the help of his new friend, Debbie, who had also seen the alien. The two trap him inside a vacuum cleaner, which malfunctions and causes the entire neighborhood to suffer a power surge. After the alien is released, Michael now believes Eric, but it leaves before Janet can be convinced. Eric's behavior towards the alien changes after he fixes all of the damage he caused to the house, and leaves behind several newspaper clippings which Eric believes are an attempt to communicate.
FBI agents Wickett and Zimmerman, who had been present when the four aliens had escaped from the base, have tracked down the youngest one to the Cruise residence. The two are immediately recognized by Eric and Michael. Eric is forced to take the alien, whom he has now named MAC (Mysterious Alien Creature), to a birthday party at the McDonald's where Debbie's older sister, Courtney, works. Wickett and Zimmerman follow, but, now disguised in a teddy suit, MAC starts a dance number as a distraction and escapes with Eric on his wheelchair. After Wickett and Zimmerman chase them through a nearby neighborhood and shopping mall with additional help, they are rescued by Michael. After catching up with the agents, Janet inadvertently learns from Wickett that MAC is indeed real.
Eric, Michael, Debbie, and Courtney decide to help reunite MAC with the other three aliens, revealed to be his family. With MAC's help, they travel towards the outskirts of Palmdale, California and manage to find them in an abandoned mine. While stopping at a gas station, they accidentally alert security. After MAC's father steals a gun from a security guard, the police arrive and an unintended shootout takes place in the parking lot followed by an explosion, with Eric being caught in the crossfire and killed. Once Wickett, Zimmerman, and Janet arrive by helicopter, MAC and his family use their powers to bring Eric back to life.
For saving Eric, MAC and his family are granted citizenship, with the Cruise family, their neighbors, as well as Wickett and Zimmerman in attendance at the ceremony.
The final scene shows MAC's father driving his family, along with the kids who helped them. MAC, who is chewing gum, blows a bubble that bears the message, "We'll be back!" (The planned sequel was later cancelled.)Jade Calegory as Eric Cruise. Calegory has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair in real life
Christine Ebersole as Janet Cruise
Jonathan Ward as Michael Cruise
Katrina Caspary as Courtney
Lauren Stanley as Debbie
Barbara Allyne Bennet as Scientist
Martin West as Wickett
Danny Cooksey as Jack, Jr.
Squire Fridell as Ronald McDonald
Jennifer Aniston and Nikki Cox appear as uncredited extras
The film's soundtrack album was released by Curb Records, featuring one track from the musical score by Alan Silvestri and the theme song "Take Me (I'll Follow You)" by Bobby Caldwell.
- "You're Not a Stranger Anymore (Theme from Mac and Me)" - Jara Lane (3:42)
- "Take Me (I'll Follow You)" - Bobby Caldwell (5:32)
- "You Knew What You Were Doing (Every Inch of the Way)" - Marcy Levy (3:30)
- "Down to Earth" - Ashford and Simpson (5:27)
- "Waves" - Debbie Lytton (3:44)
- "Send Out a Signal" - Larry Hart (4:31)
- "Wait and Break My Heart Tomorrow" - The Flint River Band (4:40)
- "Overture (Theme From Mac and Me)" - Alan Silvestri (4:24)
In 2014, Quartet Records released a limited edition disc (1000 copies) of Silvestri's complete score. The disc also includes "You're Not A Stranger Anymore (Theme From Mac and Me)" and "Take Me (I'll Follow You)," which Silvestri co-wrote for the film.
The film was considered a box office bomb, grossing $6,424,112 in the United States. It had a profit-sharing arrangement with Ronald McDonald House Charities.
The distinguishing feature of the protagonist using a wheelchair without that being the focus of the story received mixed reactions. The film was panned by critics for the similarity of its plot, characters, and even the design of the alien, to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
It was further criticized for its numerous and blatant product placements, including Coca-Cola and Skittles (the only food MAC eats), Sears (where Janet works), and pervasive promotion of McDonald's. The contrivance of the "Mysterious Alien Creature" being referred to by the acronym "MAC", a five-minute dance number in a McDonald's featuring Ronald McDonald (credited as "himself"), and the use of him to introduce the film's theatrical trailer, led Leonard Maltin to describe it as being "more like a TV commercial than a movie". According to a contemporary article from Ad Age, "there was no quid pro quo between the filmmakers and these companies".
Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 0% rating, based on 23 reviews, with the site's consensus stating: "Mac and Me is duly infamous: not only is it a pale imitation of E.T., it's also a thinly-veiled feature length commercial for McDonald's and Coca-Cola."
The film ends with a freeze frame and the words "We'll be back!" superimposed, but after egregious reviews and box office returns, the planned sequel was thought to be cancelled permanently.1988 Golden Raspberry Awards
Worst New Star (Ronald McDonald)
Worst Director (Stewart Raffill)
Worst Picture (R.J. Louis) (nominated; lost to Cocktail)
Worst Screenplay (Stewart Raffill and Steve Feke) (nominated; lost to Heywood Gould for Cocktail)
1988 Young Artist Awards
Best Family Motion Picture: Animation or Fantasy (nominated; lost to Beetlejuice)
Best Young Actor in a Motion Picture: Comedy or Fantasy (Jade Calegory) (nominated; lost to The Two Coreys: Corey Feldman and Corey Haim for License to Drive)
Best Young Actress in a Motion Picture: Comedy or Fantasy (Tina Caspary) (nominated; lost to Mayim Bialik in Beaches)
Best Young Actress in a Motion Picture: Comedy or Fantasy (Lauren Stanley) (nominated; lost to Mayim Bialik in Beaches)
The film has gained a measure of notoriety due to a running gag by actor Paul Rudd. When appearing as a guest on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and O'Brien's later show Conan, Rudd would perform a "bait-and-switch" by always showing the same melodramatic and poorly staged clip from the film (in which Eric, watched by MAC, loses control of his wheelchair and falls off a cliff into a lake) instead of showing clips from the actual films he was ostensibly promoting.