In the 80’s being a geek or a nerd was considered tantamount to being an outcast. If you wore glasses, read books, watched scifi, you were sure to get your beaten up or at some point, pantsed. Unlike today, back then there was no such thing as an accepted Nerd Culture and so, of course, Hollywood latched on to this subculture of misfits and decided to sensationalize them along with every other group that didn’t ‘fit the social norm’. Enter, Weird Science.
Today’s Key Movie:
Starring Anthony Michael Hall, Kelly LeBrock, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Bill Paxton and Robert Downy Jr and directed by John Hughes, this is the story of two high-school kids decide to use technology to create the perfect woman inadvertently creating much more in the process.
Why this movie?
I am not sure when I first saw this film but I know it wasn’t in the theaters. This was certainly a VHS rental and it was probably because of the absurd sexually implicit cover but somehow I managed to see it despite my parents reluctance to allow me to see such films. This was one of those films that I remember very fondly having identified with the primary characters in pretty much every way possible. Here were two guys, desperate for love but essentially social outcasts. These guys were nerds who clearly feel out of place in the world and have no idea how to fit in while facing bullies both in and out of their homes.
At that time in my life, this film represented a great story that empowered ‘Nerd Kind’ by showing just how horrible teen society could be to them while making the nerds out to be heroes in the end. Like most John Hughes films, the bullies met a their fates and the underdogs wound up on top but, Watching it now, it seems to have a few things that really make me realize that this was certainly a product of it’s time.
but is it really a Good Movie?
While this film remains one of my favorite of the time, it suffers from being a little overly sexual and frankly a bit offensive to today’s audience. As a rule, I try not to judge films of the past by today’s standards as you have to put your mind in the frame of the period that film was made, but this one is a tough one to defend at times. (and I am not even going to try to discuss the rather awkward Blues Bar segment where the two 15 year old boys get drunk and act like Black Blues Musicians. It’s rather embarrassing and really doesn’t make sense to the overall plot. Then again, that sort of thing was popular back then.)
The concept of making someone, anyone, for the purpose of sex and pleasure is, in itself, a pretty frightening prospect. This idea has been around since time immemorial and has only gotten more prevalent with the popularity of Science Fiction. In much of fiction today there are robot slaves and even clones, a concept that was a primary drive for the replicant rebellion in Bladerunner, but films like this take this kind of thing to another level. Here are two teenage boys, Gary and Wyatt (Hall and Ilan), who, inspired by the works of Frankenstein, who decide to ‘make a woman’ (Lisa played by Kelly LeBrock) for one purpose only, to have someone beholden to them and them alone. Interestingly, even though they intend on making a sex slave, the woman they make is much more than just that. In fact, while being very attractive, the guys ensure that she has a genius level intellect with a will of her own. This, coupled with using the power of a government installation to create her, also gives her the power to alter the reality around her which she certainly uses to her benefit.
This is where this film somehow manages to be both disturbing and enduring all at once. While the guys set out to make a sex slave, they inadvertently create someone who is ultimately there to give them the confidence they need to discover themselves and become mature adults. It is an extreme way to go through puberty but somehow, it just works. While many of the themes in this film are disturbing at best, John Hughes manages to create a strange classic film that somehow stands the test of time. There is indeed a lesson here and it comes from Lisa when the guys try to create another woman for their ‘friends’. In a pivotal scene she tells them ‘ You had to be big shots didn’t you? You had to show off. When are you going to learn that people will like you for who you are, not for what you can give them.’
All in all, this is a fun film that is a great example of the 80’s and it’s strange and wonderful sense of humor coupled with the decades obsession with sex. It is an 80’s teen fantasy coupled with the classic EC comics namesake. With all of this, the cast does a tremendous job under the direction of John Hughes. Hughes has a way to pull the best out of his actors even when the subject matter is a little off at times. Even though it is one that could never make it today, it still remains one of the key movies of my life.
I mean, haven’t you wanted to turn a bully into a literal pile of crap?
Additionally, for those of you counting at home, the theme song entitled ‘Weird Science’ is by Oingo Boingo who was fronted by someone who would go on to become one of the most famous composers of the 80’s and 90’s, Danny Elfman. Somehow, it always seems to come back to the talent of this one artist.
OK, where do I get this movie?
This is yet another that I doubt will ever go out of print. You can pick it up here pretty cheap and, if you are a fan of John Hughes or just love fun strange 80’s films, this one is for you. Interestingly enough, this film even managed to spark a TV series that followed the boys on further adventures outside of their time in the film.
As usual, here is the trailer:
Late To The Game 11/28/2019
If you would like to read more reviews please check out the rest of the Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday.
For more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here. and, If you dig Music, I have a semi regular series called Stand Out Albums that covers some of my favorite records I have come across in life.
As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!