I saw E.T. when I was ten, and at that time, the excitement and suspense generated by the opening scenes, where the aliens abandon one of their kind, gave way to nausea viewing the saccharine ending. Since I can remember, I was more interested in exploring ideas presented by movies rather than the plot itself, and E.T.'s plot was a distraction.
This in general is the problem I've had with other films that Steven Speilberg has directed and produced (A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Poltergeist, Innerspace, Batteries Not Included, for example). The concepts (extraterrestrials, artificial intelligence, poltergeists, explorations of the body) are great and make my mind soar. The anthropomorphising ends up like being a huge anchor that I need to throw away to get the most from those films.
This isn't to criticise Spielberg: it's clear I'm in the minority when it comes to a distaste for humanisation of films, but I feel quite strongly that there's a Universe out there that's beyond us and we're nothing more than specks of dust in the cosmos. Thus I view such films as self-aggrandising hubris.
The nice thing about this story is that even though there's little nefarious activity going on (the extra-terrestrial is never threatening or threatened), the film develops well and the pacing is tight. The acting by the kids who are in charge of taking care of E.T. is very good and there's some political incorrectness that's refreshing.
There's a lot of symbolism in the film that makes it worth watching when one's more well-read (than as a child), but this is also manipulative. There's nothing special to be said for the "revamped" version but its release does give one an opportunity to check it out on the big screen. E.T. is a part of American pop culture, and definitely worth checking out, particularly if you can ignore being preached about what you already (should) know.