Weird Science (1985) – Film Review
Director: John Hughes
Cast: Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Kelly LeBrock
by Sarah Morgan
After making the teen character studies Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club, writer-director John Hughes decided to do something different – but not too different. After all, he was on a winning streak, so there was no need to change his formula too much.
Weird Science is, quite frankly, utterly bonkers. I didn’t see it until I was at university, so probably a little too old for it. Now, as a fortysomething, I found it entertaining, despite the highly questionable premise and the finale, which is a sprawling mess.
Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith play perennial geeks Gary and Wyatt, 15-year-old boys who are constantly picked on by their peers and are far from being hits with the girls – and their hormones are truly raging.
While Wyatt’s parents are away, Gary spends the weekend at his friend’s house. Watching the 1931 version of Frankenstein (bizarrely a colourised version – what kind of maniac decided black and white wasn’t good enough?) gives Gary the idea of creating a beautiful woman.
Cue some supposedly hi-tech shenanigans that look only marginally more sophisticated than your average ZX Spectrum, and before long Lisa – a gorgeous, hugely intelligent 23-year-old female – is born. She certainly shakes up the boys’ lives, turning them into popular figures at school, loosening them up, helping them find girlfriends and teaching Wyatt’s thuggish brother a much-needed lesson.
All well and good, but the scene involving Lisa kissing Wyatt, while probably a high school boy’s fantasy, is somewhat uncomfortable. Lisa is played by Kelly LeBrock, who was very much a woman, while Ilan Michael-Smith looks younger than the 15 he would have been during filming.
The confusing finale involves motorcyclists (one of which is played by The Hills Have Eyes star Michael Berryman), some decent special effects and a rather lacklustre ‘turd monster’. Oddly, it does, however, fit in with the rest of the film.
“Lots of special features”
It’s fun, undemanding stuff, which also features early performances from Bill Paxton and Robert Downey Jr.
As ever with an Arrow release, there are lots of special features to enjoy, including a bunch of new interviews with cast and crew members (interestingly, casting director Jackie Burch reveals that both Robin Wright and Sharon Stone were considered for the role of Lisa).
Sadly, none of the principal actors are involved – it would have been great to hear both Hall and Mitchell-Smith’s memories, particularly the latter, who has apparently since given up acting to become an academic.
‘Weird Science’ is released on Blu-ray by Arrow, £24.99