Weird Science (1985)


Weird Science

Like something dug out of the back of John Hughes’s closet, among all the back issues of Amazing Tales, Playboy, and Mad – adolescent fantasy writ large and kind of creepy. It shouldn’t be forgotten, I suppose, that back before his career as a screenwriter, Hughes was a writer for National Lampoon. Weird doesn’t even really begin to describe this spotty misfire.

As its Hughes-land, we’re back again in the suburbs of Chicago’s North Shore, circa 1985, when apparently even bullies (embodied here by Robert Rusler and Robert Downey before he added the ‘Jr.’) could wear bad Wave-head fashions to the mall. A slightly more adult Anthony Michael Hall (look how much he’s grown since the previous year’s Sixteen Candles!) and the nasally-voiced Ilan Mitchell-Smith play best friends Garry and Wyatt. Losers beyond compare and hopeless with girls, they come up with the idea – while staying over at Wyatt’s house while his parents are out of town – of creating the perfect woman on Wyatt’s computer (you can almost see their bug-eyed, leering faces in a bad Playboy cartoon, drooling over some centerfold on the monitor). A few Frankenstein clips and some extremely bad special effects later, the door to Wyatt’s bedroom explodes (of course) and standing in the smoke is their perfect woman: Kelly LeBrock.

Since it was the 1980s, and this was a teen movie, no matter how preposterous the setup (fortunately, the movie never tries to explain how exactly a PC created a human being, though we do know you had to have a Barbie doll), there had to be a moral to the story, and LeBrock arrives as the gorgeous enactor of that moral. LeBrock lets the stunned Garry and Wyatt know that she’s there to do whatever they want, but it’s obvious pretty early on that she’s also there to give them a healthy dose of confidence. This involves dragging them to a nightclub (where unfortunately, Hall ends up drunk and in a pimp hat, trying to talk jive), showering with them, inviting thousands of people to a party at Wyatt’s house and basically making every man in existence jealous as hell of Garry and Wyatt.

The movie is actually a pretty decent comedy for about its first two-thirds, and that’s mostly thanks to LeBrock. Nobody’s idea of a great actress, LeBrock was just a model with a fetching British accent and giant, Jennifer Beals hairdo, but there’s a steely bravado to the way in which she trash-talks anybody who bad-mouths her boys. That and her wicked grin (think Elizabeth Hurley in Bedazzled) makes her adorable and one of the only reasons to watch Weird Science.

Unfortunately, there’s also that scene where a band of mutants who appear to have wandered off the Road Warrior set storm into Wyatt’s house and kidnap their new girlfriends. (Jonah Falcon reports that one of the actors actually appeared in both movies.) See, the boys had gotten greedy and tried to make another perfect woman (as some kind of trade with the bullies played by Rusler and Downey, who were giving up their girls), which created a rip in the space/time continuum … or something. A nuclear missile erupts from the ground while furniture flies out the chimney and the kitchen turns blue. And by the end of it all, Garry and Wyatt will have learned A Very Valuable Lesson. All those who pine about John Hughes not making teen movies any more should be forced to watch this one again – they weren’t all Pretty in Pink.

The Universal ‘High School Reunion’ has no extras, beyond a trailer, and the picture transfer is just standard. They could have at least thrown on a couple episodes of the Weird Science TV show, which somehow managed to run for about three seasons in the mid-’90s, not because it would have been worthwhile, but at least you would feel like you got a better deal for your DVD dollar.

What’s weird about that?