Many of us who grew up in the 80s have a fondness for the films of John Hughes, regardless of whatever genre of film we tend to gravitate towards. The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles were full of pretty people, but still managed to speak across most socio-economic and clique lines. He wrote the highlights of Chevy Chase’s career, the first three National Lampoon’s Vacation films. That’s not to mention writing and/or directing Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, She’s Having a Baby, Mr. Mom, and Pretty in Pink. For me, his best film will always be Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. But his second best film, hands down, is Weird Science. Starring Anthony Michael Hall, Kelly LeBrock, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, also features a teenage Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr., as well as the late, great Bill Paxton, Road Warrior’s Vernon Wells, and The Hills Have Eyes’ Michael Berryman.
Loosely based or inspired by the EC Comics’ series of the same name, Weird Science is about two losers, Gary (Hall) and Wyatt (Mitchell-Smith), and their adventures in creating a woman with Wyatt’s home computer (this is 1986, so the power of this fucking computer is where most of the science fiction comes into play), cutouts from nudie mags, and a Barbie doll laid out on the Game of Life board game box as an operating table. They hack into the defense department’s servers, somehow, and push buttons until they patch into a power source that brings the doll to life in the full-sized body of Kelly LeBrock. Yes, to describe it out loud does sound stupid, but that’s not the point! Who cares about plausibility? We’re here for a good time and Weird Science, top to bottom, is a fucking fun movie.
Ok, yes, let’s get it out of the way. Even though there’s no actual sex going on, or at least very little, which is lightly implied, it’s all kinds of eyebrow-raising in the context of 2019. These two goobers basically made a sex slave to exploit their every perverted whim, and then later use her and their ability to make use of her as a bargaining chip to lay two other girls. But this was a more ‘innocent time,’ right? No, not at all. This was still wrong in 1985. But it all plays out so playfully and goofy, you just need to check your political correctness at the door and enjoy the ride for 97 minutes. Besides, it’s way less problematic than say, Revenge of the Nerds, where there’s a straight-up rape committed by one of the ‘good guys.’ Another thing that redeems the films stickier themes is the fact that Kelly LeBrock’s Lisa is always in control, driving the action, with abandon and a smirk.
Weird Science is a purely absurdist romp with a bunch of fantastic and memorable performances, especially from Paxton as Wyatt’s older brother Chet. I would put his role in this film right up there with his roles in Near Dark and Aliens. Its a messy, uneven narrative that barely makes sense, but it’s consistently charming. It’s easy to forgive certain inadequacies because the overall package is fun as hell. And then there’s Oingo Boingo’s (Danny Elfman’s old band) theme song, which is super catchy, absurd, and silly, just like the film. If I’m not mistaken, this was Elfman’s first film credit, too. Arrow didn’t slouch on this release either; 4K hi-def restoration, two previously unseen scenes spliced back in (very good), the original theatrical version, and the edited-for-TV version. There’s also a handful of features on the casting, making of, the score, and special effects with interviews of cast and crew.
Thank you, Arrow Video, for giving us the gift of a definitive version of this great 80s gem.
Weird Science is available through Arrow Video, Amazon, and wherever fine Blu-rays are sold.