Weird Science (1985) / Comedy-Fantasy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sexuality, nudity, violence, teen drinking, and language
Running Time: 94 min.
Cast: Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Kelly LeBrock, Bill Paxton, Suzanne Snyder, Judie Aronson, Robert Downey Jr., Robert Rusler
Director: John Hughes
Screenplay: John Hughes
A "Bride of Frankenstein " (if she were hot and smart) premise for the teen sex-laden 1980s film era, Weird Science is writer-director John Hughes' (The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off) high-concept comedy that triggers more happy moments out of nostalgia than it does from anything that happens during the course of the movie. Like many 1980s comedies aimed at adolescents, it seems rather liberal in its use of nudity and guns utilized in point-blank-range-to-the-face fashion, so parents who saw this as kids should remember that it is far from a kids movie today.
Gary (Hall, Six Pack) and Wyatt (Mitchell-Smith, The Chocolate War) are a pair of best friend suburban Chicago high school geeks tired of being everyone else's door mat and wanting to have girlfriends of their own. When the traditional methods prove to be of no avail, the duo decide to use Wyatt's computer skills to work by creating a virtual girlfriend for them to ask questions to. However, their digital concoction actually comes to life in the form of a smart, gorgeous, and magically gifted woman they name "Lisa" (LeBrock, The Woman in Red), who makes it her mission to transform these dweebs to be the kind of men that other boys want to be and other girls want to be with.
Although a fantastical premise, the film goes through some fairly routine avenues in order to get to its ultimate destination, including the house party while the family's away, the teen driving of a hot car, and having to snatch the most desirable girls in school from their jerk-wad boyfriends. It's basically Risky Business with special effects. In between, not a great deal of sense can be made even in its own limited, self-contained universe of ideas, as it doesn't make sense for a computer to spit out a woman from another room, or for this same woman to have the brain of a genius from inputting nothing more than a picture of Albert Einstein's head. It's a film you're forced into the position of suspending your disbelief in in the hope you'll get a few yuks. While there's some amusement, for the most part, Weird Science will have many wondering about all of the avenues that could have been taken while perplexed that it instead chose to become Animal House meets The Road Warrior at a house party.
Kelly LeBrock, at her most fetching, gets to play the cheesecake role for all it's worth, and though she is absent from the film for much longer stretches than she should be, she's probably the most memorable selling point the film has to offer in terms of its overall appeal. Hughes at least knows that LeBrock's acting range is limited to just looking hot and her lush British accent, and that's pretty much all that she is allowed to offer. One does wonder why, if she's every 15-year-old boy's (and probably nearly every heterosexual male of any age's) fantasy why neither Gary nor Wyatt are willing to ever relinquish their quest to get the elusive girls in their school when they have, literally, everything they've ever dreamed of.
The two teen stars do have their appeal, playing likeable geeks among a school of teens who seem to have no real individual flavor. It's easy to be on the side of the boys when the only other distinction among their peers are a couple of douche bags who find ways to humiliate them. That's especially true when the only other character given any distinction, Wyatt's sadistic older brother Chet (Paxton, Aliens), makes sure that their home life is just as painful as when they're at school.
Hughes, who reportedly wrote the script for the film in a mere two days, never delves beneath the superficial elements of the thin storyline, content to show the requisite titillation and teen partying that sold tickets at the box office in that era. Unlike many of his other teen films of the 80s, Weird Science doesn't offer the character development of serious undercurrents that Hughes would become known for. Instead, he turns in an inventive but not very far reaching teen sex comedy, with only the basic premise setting it apart from at least a dozen others to come out in 1985. LeBrock, Paxton, and a catchy hit Oingo Boingo theme song are the legacy of this film for nostalgia buffs, but it is definitely a disappointment in most other regards given the talent and ideas behind it all.
-- Followed by a TV series in 1994
©2010 Vince Leo