Weird Science, directed and written by 1980’s superstar filmmaker, John Hughes, centers around two unpopular teenage boys, who are desperate to get girlfriends and become cool. Gary Wallace, played by an acne-faced Anthony Michael Hall fresh off his roles in National Lampoon’s Vacation, Sixteen Candles, and The Breakfast Club, and Wyatt Donnelly, played by the adorable Ilan Mitchel-Smith who had only starred in one prior motion picture, The Wild Life, (Ever hear of it? I didn’t think so.) spend the weekend together, while Wyatt’s parents are conveniently out of town. Guess all parents in 1980’s flicks didn’t get the memo that their children will throw a party while they are out of town, and yes, the house will get destroyed.
While watching Frankenstein on television, a brilliant idea comes to Gary. He tells Wyatt they should create a woman, using Wyatt’s super computer skills. I’m sure Mary Shelley just rolled over in her grave. The viewer has to suspend belief, as Wyatt inputs AP calculus equations into his Memotech MTX 512, and begins building a three-dimensional model of a woman. Take that Apple! After scanning in some magazine clippings of models and one of David Lee Roth, hooking up a couple wires to a brunette Barbie doll, and wearing cone-shaped bras on their heads, a lightning storm ensues, resulting in the creation of Gary and Wyatt’s dream girl. Lisa, played by former supermodel Kelly LeBrock, appears in the doorway wearing nothing but high-leg briefs and a Flashdance-inspired sweatshirt. Her only prior acting experience was The Woman in Red. But she’s not here to go all method. Her sole purpose is to look hot and then put Gary and Wyatt in awkward situations, where they must learn confidence, stand up for themselves, and bag some high school cuties.
Although the premise is absurd, the film is really funny, about 75 percent of the time. It actually uses clichés in a positive way, by basically making fun of itself. I laughed instead of winced at much of the dialogue. The stand-out is Anthony Michael Hall’s character, Gary, who has most of the zingers. He is still playing to type, the nerd. But unlike his other John Hughes predecessors, he gets to be sarcastic too, where we laugh with him, instead of at him. Some of his best lines are:
“Should we give her a brain? I want her to live, to breath. I want her to aerobicize.”
“Well my nuts are half way up my ass, but other than that, I’m alright.”
“Lisa would have a good time at an insurance seminar.”
“They’re gonna shit eggrolls.”
“Bravery and courage are outdated concepts.”
And when asked if he felt like a chicken, he answers, “If I could shoot an egg out of my ass, I would.”
After Hall, the second best lines were uttered by Wyatt’s military-obsessed bully of a brother, Chet, played by none other than Bill Paxton. He makes acting like an A-hole seem effortless. With so many lines to choose from, I’ll pick:
“You two donkey dicks couldn’t get laid in a morgue.”
Besides dialogue, there are a couple scenes where Hughes plays with social commentary. The first is when Gary and Wyatt end up at a blues club in the Southside of Chicago, get very drunk, and Gary ends up talking all gangsta, but instead of getting his ass kicked, he becomes the center of attention among a group of forty-something African Americans. It is so politically incorrect, it works. The second, towards the end of the film, is when Gary and Wyatt try to build a second woman to impress two of the more popular high school guys. (Cameo alert. One of them is played by Robert Downey, Jr., of course). But they forget to hook up the doll to wires, and instead, hook it up to the cover of Time magazine, which just happens to depict a nuclear missile. A giant nuke ends up growing through the house, like Jack and the Giant Beanstalk. It screams Cold War, Ronald Reagan, and Gorbachev.
But for all the laughs, I couldn’t get over the awful acting of Ilan Mitchel-Smith. It’s not surprising that we never saw him in anything else after this film. He’s too whiny and not a good match when it comes to playing off Anthony Michael Hall’s sarcasm. He also does an aside to the camera almost every other scene. Maybe he was directed to do so, but it breaks the fourth wall and throws the viewer out of the story.
I know it’s an 80’s film, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need another beer to put up with the most classic 80’s film offenders. Here are the most obvious:
1) Yeah! There is a shower scene with a sexy woman and steam before minute 15.
2) Sure, copy Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and have your characters hang out at the mall. But then outdo yourself, and make sure a large crowd stands around and just laughs at your main characters. Because when I’m shopping, I always stop and laugh at some loser with strangers. (But I did notice someone carrying a Crate and Barrel bag. Say what? The go-to furniture store for my generation existed in 1985?)
3) Off the shoulder sweatshirt. Need I say more?
4) A girl who unfortunately gets all her clothes ripped off by a strange tornado that overtakes the house. Plus, awesome editing job, because you can see the outline of her bra and underwear, but she is supposed to be NAKED. Oh I forgot; this film is only PG-13.
5) Graphics. When Gary and Wyatt create their dream woman, the viewer is tortured by a computer graphics montage that even during its time is laughable. I imagine it would be what Bill Gates envisions if he were to drop acid and then play NES Marble Madness.
The pacing of this film is too S…………L………..O………W. At only 95 minutes in length, I struggled to stay interested and wished Starbucks delivered.
The soundtrack lacks inspiration. It is the 80’s, and we could have heard some Bowie, The Clash, or Talking Heads. But instead, we are subject to Van Halen’s rendition of “Pretty Woman”, of course Oingo Boingo’s ‘Weird Science”, and the Rocky Balboa theme song. Wrong movie Hughes.
I may have a soft spot for this film, because it was always on the line-up at slumber parties. How 80’s! But if you feel nostalgic and want to re-watch it in 2013, just remember the plot doesn’t matter, only the jokes do. And, my single girlfriends and I will be putting some American Apparel boxer-briefs on our heads this Saturday night and seeing if Channing Tatum appears in my living room.
Take a Drink: every time Wyatt does an aside to the camera.
Take a Drink: every time Gary says, “Oh, shit.”
Do a Shot: every time Gary and Wyatt end up in the shower together.