Weird Science (1985)

weird science

“So, what would you little maniacs like to do first?”

The Scoop: 1985 PG-13, directed by John Hughes and starring Anthony Michael Hall, Kelly LeBrock, and Bill Paxton

Tagline: It’s all in the name of science. Weird Science.

Summary Capsule: The 80’s taught us well: if you can’t get a girl, make one up by any means necessary! Two teens do just that, and a wild ride follows.

Justin’s rating: Just so you know, that “Weird Science” song plays no less than THREE times during the film. Way to milk a hit!

Justin’s review: For those not in the know, Weird Science was the movie John Hughes made during his opium period. A short span of time in this director’s life, but the impact it made was tremendous. It’s probably the most bizarre thing he ever made, and I include Curly Sue with that statement.

Unlike his other, more “serious” teen comedies that often had Molly Ringwald bunching up her face and crying, Weird Science became a comedy that threw any and all movie logic out of the window, and settled on having a good time from start to finish. It’s not the most polished, or even understandable, piece of cinema out there, but it remains one of his most beloved movies and a testament to geek power.

Gary (Anthony Michael Hall, Hughes’ staple nerd) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) have a weekend to themselves at Wyatt’s house — as long as you don’t include Wyatt’s hysterically overbearing older brother Chet (Bill Paxton). Moaning about their position in the sexually attractiveness food chain (somewhere around “plankton”), they up and decide to make a girl out of thin air. Sure! Boy howdy! Not possible you say? Apparently, you aren’t familiar with ’80s computers and technology which, if you believed any of the TV shows and movies that fawned over these electronic revolutions, could do just about anything you ever imagined. Using an incredibly ancient computer (which still could process primitive 3D graphics, no less), a Barbie doll hooked up to electric clamps, and bras on their heads, Wyatt and Gary manage to magically create a flesh-and-blood vixen in the space of a few minutes. Yup, there goes all believability, out the window!

Doesn’t matter. If you can’t get into the loose swing of Weird Science’s weird science, then it’s not going to be very fun for you. Your friends will be laughing with this movie, and you’ll be sitting there, sulking like a kid who got tons of stuff for Christmas but not that “one thing” you wanted more than anything else. Spoiled brat.

Lisa, their creation, isn’t a meek sex toy as you might expect; she sees these two dweebs as her personal project to ship into shape, and yanks them along for a wild weekend ride that includes a night out on the town and a massive party thrown at Wyatt’s house. Apparently, part of Lisa’s coding is the ability to do pretty much anything by “magic” (see, technology WAS more advanced back then), and the boys don’t question her strange decisions one iota.

John Hughes loves his party scenes, and Weird Science might be the ultimate for him. A vast chunk of the film involves these teens thrashing about in Wyatt’s house while stranger and stranger events go on around them — yet no matter what happens, none of the teens are ever scared enough to leave. Hey, my survival instinct usually kicks in right around the time whenever a chimney sucks the clothes right off a girl’s back and then spits her twenty feet up into the air, but I’m just funny that way.

I do think that Bill Paxton had the most fun out of anybody here. Chet is an overboard bully of a brother, further reinforcing Hughes’ insecurity about family (pretty much any relative of his movie characters are either clueless, incompetent, or outright jerks). Paxton nails a certain breed of psychotic sibling that is only out to extort his brother and make him suffer for no good reason whatsoever. I’m sure you can’t relate.

Personally, I’m not sure how well Weird Science works, even after having seen it dozens of times. It’s got its moments, great ones, if you ask me… but there are so many flaws that I question why it’s gotten this huge of a following. The pacing falters and story splays all over the place, not to mention that there’s really no climax to the plot whatsoever. Hughes seems to unleash more of a violent streak — guns pulled on other people are the answer to your problems, he telegraphs — that really jars against the soft innocent slant of the film. And neither Gary nor Wyatt are interesting in the least; they get a couple good lines, but mostly just run around as Lisa and other characters do things that cause them to react in panic and alarm.

It’s a must-see for any ’80s student, doing research for their thesis, but Hughes did much, much better in his other films. Oingo Boingo or no.

The Secret Brotherhood of the Bra

Intermission!

  • Is that… Robert Downey Jr.?
  • Ah, the blissed strains of Oingo Boingo
  • Garry is a messy shaver
  • Who actually watches those old horror flicks?
  • 80’s computers can do anything!
  • Canadian girls have no morals
  • 80’s modems! I’m loving this!
  • 80’s 3D computer graphics!
  • Computers can scan Playboys and make them real
  • The Janitor from The Breakfast Club is in the bar (I think)
  • Gary acting black
  • Bill Paxton makes a great annoying older brother
  • Naked butt alert!
  • Air biscuit?
  • Dragnet parody
  • Vernon Wells plays Wez (unnamed here), the same character he played in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. His vehicle, with two hooded corpses on it, is also the same as in Mad Max 2.
  • Anthony Michael Hall makes a reference to a girlfriend from Canada. His character Brian from The Breakfast Club also makes a reference to an imaginary girlfriend from Canada.
  • The high school that Wyatt and Gary attend, Shermer High School, is the same (fictitious) high school that hosted “The Breakfast Club” a year earlier.
  • Personalized license plates (a Hughes trademark)
  • John Hughes wrote this film in two days.
  • Wyatt’s computer is a Memotech MTX512 with an FDX add-on.
  • Kelly LeBrock’s character name was inspired by Apple Computer’s first GUI computer, the Apple Lisa.

Groovy Quotes

Chet: An accident? An accident? Do you realize it’s snowing in my room?

Chet: You’re stewed, buttwad!

Gary: You know, I can’t believe this, Wyatt. I’m so disappointed in us. I mean, all our lives we’ve been saying how great it would be if we went to parties, right? And now it’s our party and we’re in the john. We’re in the john!

Gary: We need more input. We gotta fill this thing up with data. We gotta make her as real as possible, Wyatt. I want her to live. I want her to breathe. I want her to aerobicize.

Wyatt: Gary, by the way, why are we wearing bras on our heads?
Gary: Ceremonial.

Lisa: So, what would you little maniacs like to do first?

Lisa: If you ever get the chance, shower with them. I did. Mmm, it’s a mindscrambler. Hurts so good.

Lisa: Don’t threaten me Al! You’re out of shape, I’ll kick your arse.

Lisa: I can be a real serious bitch if I don’t get what I want.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • The Breakfast Club
  • Sixteen Candles
  • Real Genius

10 comments

  1. Oingo Boingo must have had a pretty good time with this, because they also contributed the song ‘dead man’s party’ (which had a Buffy episode named after it!) to the movie ‘back to school’ a couple of years later. From the music video on youtube, I’m pretty sure that Robert Downey Jr was in THAT one too.

    Also, Weird Science actually got adapted to a TV series that ran from 1994-1998. Lasting five seasons, it’s generally considered to be quite good.

  2. Recently I came across the Siskel and Ebert review of this movie, on which they split. A lot of folks say they love it when those two disagree. But in this case it got uncomfortable. They were yelling at each other as if they were on The McLaughlin Group, and it looked like they were this close to coming to blows. For all I know they did, and it got cut from the broadcast.

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