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  Weird Science Don't Knock LeBrock
Year: 1985
Director: John Hughes
Stars: Anthony Michael Hall, Kelly LeBrock, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Bill Paxton, Suzanne Snyder, Judie Aronson, Robert Downey Jr, Robert Rusler, Vernon Wells, Britt Leach, Barbara Lang, Michael Berryman, Ivor Barry, Ann Coyle, Suzy Kellems, John Kapelos
Genre: Comedy, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Wyatt (Anthony Michael Hall) and Gary (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) are terminally unpopular at school, routinely humiliated and well and truly at the bottom of the social ladder. No matter how much they fantasise about the opposite sex, they can never make those dreams a reality which is why they're relegated to hanging around with each other and providing mutual moral support, even when the resident jocks yank down their shorts in front of the girls' gym class. One night, Wyatt's parents are away for the weekend and he invites Gary over, and they relax watching an old Frankenstein movie on the television. But the further the film progresses, the more wide-eyed Gary gets: he's had a brainwave!

Of all the John Hughes comedies, aside from Curly Sue or National Lampoon's Class Reunion which likely rate worse, Weird Science was the one which had the toughest time from the tastemakers. It was dismissed as juvenile wish fulfilment, pandering to a young audience to fleece them for a movie that didn't have the courage of its leery convictions, so of course it found an audience back in the nineteen-eighties of viewers who didn't see anything wrong with that whatsoever. And when they grew up, the power of nostalgia ensured it remained a fond cinematic memory, though there were still many looking down their noses at the whole concept, not to mention the quality of the jokes.

As usual with Hughes, he was making supposedly outrageous comedies for a conservative audience, and Weird Science saw him at his wackiest as he had his two teen heroes do something very eighties indeed to create their dream woman. Which was program a computer to conjure her up, for in that decade technology could pretty much do - or excuse - anything, leaving Gary and Wyatt very much slotted into that stereotype of the young computer whiz who was better at the implementation of getting the things to do precisely what they wanted than anyone else, though the trouble they caused was largely for themselves in this instance. And the woman they create (by feeding the machine with photos)?

International supermodel Kelly LeBrock, that's who, the film's biggest asset and not thanks only to her physical charms as she played the role with a wink as if she were well aware of how ridiculous a fantasy she was in this context. Since she's been made by a computer, she has magic powers which nobody questions (as you would be best not to), which sees her driving around in a pink Cadillac with her name - Lisa - on the numberplates and later doing a different kind of driving when she forces the boys to stand up for themselves and take the bull by the horns when it came to getting girlfriends. It could have been a lot more objectionable, and was already fairly borderline when the 25-year old Kelly smooched with the 14-year-old Ilan.

It's not even supposed to be a joke, it's the reason she was brought into the world, as a sexual plaything, but Hughes got cold feet or wanted to put one of his moral lessons into the comedy, one or the other, and after that the boys stop seeing her as a sex object and more of a fairy godmother: basically LeBrock was Diana Dors in the Adam Ant Prince Charming video, which was incidentally rather more entertaining on a superficial level. That was unfortunate, since Weird Science was doing its best to be superficial as well, but the conscience kept popping into the humour, telling its audience you know, you shouldn't be sexist because it's not going to get you anywhere romantically. What it didn't point out was being a nerd who relies on his home computer for his sexual release wouldn't be much use either, so Hughes dressed it up with such trappings as Vernon Wells reprising his Mad Max 2 character (with backup from Michael Berryman) or Bill Paxton as cluelessly aggressive older brother Chet. It hasn't aged very well, or maybe wasn't much good in the first place. Music by Ira Newborn.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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John Hughes  (1950 - 2009)

American writer/director of some of the 80s most enduring mainstream comedies. Debuted in 1984 with the witty teen romp Sixteen Candles (which introduced Molly Ringwald and John Cusack to the world) before directing The Breakfast Club, one of the decade's defining movies, the following year. Weird Science, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Uncle Buck were all huge hits, while Chris Columbus's Home Alone (which Hughes wrote) quickly became the most successful comedy of all time. Quit directing in 1991, but continued to be a prolific screenwriter and producer until his untimely death.

 
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