Weird Science (John Hughes, 1985)

Screened as part of Mayhem’s The Created Woman festival in Nottingham, I had a fantastic opportunity to revisit a childhood favourite on the big screen. Whilst perhaps of its time, John Hughes’s Weird Science still stands up to my memories and was every bit as enjoyable a I remember it.

The plot centres around two teenage geeks: Gary Wallace (played by Hughes regular Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt Donnelly (played by Ilan Mitchell-Smith). When we first see them, they are on the wrong end of a beating at the hands of school bullies (one of which is an extremely young Robert Downey, yet to add Jnr.). When they return home, inspired by a viewing of Frankenstein – or was it Bride of Frankenstein? – they fire up their Memotech MTX512 and try to create their perfect woman using a few magazine cuttings, some rudimentary computer software, a doll and a hacked power station. What they don’t expect is that this woman will come to life, in the form of Kelly LeBrock, the sexy, British, athletic, intelligent, headstrong woman of their dreams.

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To enjoy the film you have to accept its many faults. There’s quite a bit of unfathomable science going on to get us through the story, with no real basis in science. The computer visuals really set the film deeply in the 1980s and have dated badly. I’m not sure the idea of a 23-year-old woman passionately kissing a 15-year-old boy would pass studio execs nowadays but LeBrock is clearly hamming up and revelling in the “ideal woman” role, where the ideal woman is one imagined by two young geeky teenagers who have never had girlfriends and don’t really know what they want. You don’t have to try hard to put that to one side and accept it for what it is – a classic teen comedy by one of the greatest directors of a generation.

Bill Paxton puts in a hilarious turn as Wyatt’s older brother, who is in charge for the weekend and is running the house like a military camp. His eventual punishment for the way he treats Wyatt is unexpected an quirky, but I’ll leave the surprise for you if you’re going to watch it soon.

Revisiting Weird Science didn’t disappoint me one bit and I’d like to thank Broadway Cinema in Nottingham and Mayhem Festival for allowing it a rare return to the big screen, especially in gorgeous 35mm print form. Keep up the good work!

Weird Science is available now to buy on Blu-Ray. A print of the lovely poster art I’ve used at the top of this article is available at Old Red Jalopy.

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