This week we’re taking a trip back in time to Shermer, Illinois, to celebrate another Friday and one of John Hughes most underrated masterpieces… so get out your padded white t-shirt bra, wrap it around your head and pray that your douchey older brother doesn’t come home early… this week we’re doing some Weird Science…
When you say the name John Hughes, many people will automatically go to his more well known films: Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, the incomparable Ferris Bueller’s Day Off… and rightly so, I mean, Hughes was an absolute 80’s powerhouse, I’d defy you to find me an adult person alive that hasn’t had their childhood impacted by one of his movies – so let’s recap some more of his greatest hits – and then the trailer for this, one of his lesser known films: Weird Science (1985), which is perhaps his only foray into what might be considered science fiction:
- National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
- Sixteen Candles (1984)
- Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
- Trains, Planes and Automobiles (1987)
- She’s Having a Baby (1988)
- The Great Outdoors (1988)
- Uncle Buck (1989)
- Home Alone (1990)
- Beethoven (1992)
SPOILERS: I’m going to give away the ending – if you aren’t familiar with this cinematic slice of 80s decadence, go watch it and come back… I’ll wait… sigh.
Personally, I have always loved Weird Science and don’t think it gets as much attention as it deserves in the popular memory. Admittedly, it is a bit …. weird…. for lack of a better word, which may play a large role in why it never usually gets bought up when people are reminiscing about the glory days of 80’s comedy or the various ways in which John Hughes influenced their formative years.
The film centres around Wyatt and Gary, two typical, nerdy high school guys, who really just want to be liked:
Seriously, how could you not love them? Yes, I know, Wyatt is wearing a white denim vest, but look, it was the 80’s, okay? and as I’ve said before, times were different then, so we really need to look past that…
Gary I am not so fond of, but for the sake of this review I will put personal preferences aside. Anthony Michael Hall was excellent in The Dead Zone but that was many years later. Hughes fans might also remember him from The Breakfast Club, in which he plays a similarly nerdy role.
Anyway, after failing to attract the attention of two of the most popular girls in school (who are dating the boys worst enemies) Gary and Wyatt decide that they’re just going to cut their losses and make a girl of their very own… and share her. I guess they’re not really thinking that this plan is actually going to come to fruition when they agree to the whole sharing thing, but low and behold –
(as a woman who is totally at home in her hetro-sexuality, I can honestly say that I still think that Kelly LeBrock is amazingly hot in this film. Look at her, smokin! And that hair! I still have volume and curl envy – 30 years later)
Enter the girl of their dreams, Lisa, who has come to life via the body of an old Barbie and some magical work on a very old looking DOS system. (I love 80’s technology!!)
At first glance, the boys think they have it made… but as it turns out, Lisa isn’t as simple as she looks, oh no, apart from being the perfect woman, she has a multitude of magical powers. I guess this could be a result of the way that she was created, but that whole process is a bit sketchy, so you kind of need to suspend your disbelief there. I do enjoy that, despite the initial intention to make Lisa stupid, she ends up being highly intelligent, which tempers the focus that is placed on her as a sex object. I know, I know, I sound like I’m having a feminist whinge there, but I feel obligated to say it. While I can agree that sometimes sexy is sexy, smart and sexy is always more sexy.
Taking pity on the boys, Lisa manages to turn their lives around by teaching them some valuable life lessons: like sticking up for themselves, living on the edge, having fun without the concern of what will happen tomorrow – oh and by getting them shit-faced (an important milestone on the road to adulthood) and of course, kick starting their sexual awakening. (The shower scene – LoL).
Through the course of their adventures, Gary and Wyatt end up having the best weekend of their lives and also, winning the love of their lady crushes. Where does this leave Lisa? Well, watch and see…
Let us also pause for a moment and remember Robert Downey Jr., and his epic hair, which were on the cusp of fame in 1985 (and many years of drug addiction). Although I hated him in Less than Zero, he was a cutie patootie here and I guess I can see why the lady folk loved him so much. It sure was a long road between here and Iron Man though.
Also, it’s hard not to mention Bill Paxton, which plays Chet, Wyatt’s older and very douchey brother. I have never understood the name Chet. It’s certainly not a name I have ever encountered in the really real world (like Chad or Guy) and it’s safe to say it’s always a name I will now associate with buzz-cuts, cigar smoking and general douchery.
I don’t know about anyone else out there, but I, personally, am devastated that Wyatt didn’t go on to have a long and impressive Hollywood career, because that chap was handsome and certainly cuter than Anthony Michael Hall. Also, there did end up being a television series based on this film… which oddly lasted for 88 episodes, but we’re not going to talk about that.
One thing I love about John Hughes films (not just this one, Ferris Bueller, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles and the Breakfast Club are all similar), is that it is possible to turn your entire life around in the space of a weekend. I keep hoping that eventually I am going to run up against a similar life changing weekend in my own life… as yet that dream has not come to fruition… but look, if there are any advanced lady nerds out there, who are interested in cracking out their old Ken dolls and having a red hot go at making a man, hit me back, we should chat…