Sunday, 6 December 2009

DVD or Ditch: Weird Science

Today we are going back to the exciting series DVD or Ditch, in which I return to old films taped on VHS and wonder whether to upgrade them to DVD. So let’s see how the film Weird Science holds up.

Weird Science starred Anthony Michael Hall from Breakfast Club fame; Ilan Mitchell-Smith as his mate, and model Kelly LeBrock as every schoolboy’s fantasy. It also had Robert Downey Jr sporting some really shocking hair, although singling just him out is truly unfair. 1985 will never be a year that screams style.

The premise of the film is two nerdy fifteen year-old boys hook up a Barbie doll to their 45k Amstrad/Spectrum/Atari/lump of plastic, and amazingly bring their fantasy woman to life. She then sees that all they really want to do is snog girls, drink beer and have a party – and so makes it all come true. It is no surprise to find out that it didn’t take long for director John Hughes to come up with some of his classic films…

Weird Science didn’t really make much of an impact on me as a teenager. I think I found it funny… more than likely it didn’t appeal as I didn’t fancy the two lead actors enough (shallow, moi? Splash.)

Returning to the film as an adult, and yes, it is still funny in places. However I cannot help but think that the idea of a 23 year-old woman having sex with a 15 year-old boy is the sort of thing that carries a prison term these days. I know the film is a teenage boy fantasy thing, but still… icky…

Anthony Michael Hall does the same high-pitched ‘stoner’ type voice he did in The Breakfast Club. I haven’t seen his other John Hughes film, Sixteen Candles, but I just bet there is a scene where his character will get drunk/stoned and out will come the voice… because everyone who is drunk and stoned does a stupid voice! It’s how we spot who is high of course, derr. Like how weed (The Breakfast Club) gives the user an amazing amount of energy and causes people to run and do cartwheels. But it is this sort of innocence in the films that I find really sweet…

I think films like this made me imagine that every American teenager was hugely rich, lived in a mansion, and drove their own car. I was so utterly impressed by American teenagers when I was thirteen, especially when everyone I knew looked like they had just crawled out of Grange Hill. Yet despite the obvious differences, there are some parts of the dialogue that are bang on for a teenager, for any teenager. I think John Hughes was brilliant at holding up a mirror to how introspective that time can be for everyone, and so he created films that ended up being quite universal, although 'ended up' sounds like it may have took him by surprise. I think he knew what he was doing.

But the funniest thing with re-watching this film is I remember when I originally first saw it I thought Kelly LeBrock’s character Lisa was such a grownup. I could never imagine, as a dorky thirteen year-old, that I would ever look as grownup as Lisa. And I was right – here I am at thirty-four, and I still do not look anything like as adult as Lisa. I doubt I will ever be that grownup, even when I am fifty.

So… upgrade this to DVD? It feels very dated. There were only six months between Weird Science and The Breakfast Club, but the latter still feels relevant to this day, whereas Weird Science creates a woman from a machine with less power than my mobile. So unless this film comes as part of a John Hughes DVD pack special, I won’t be upgrading this film anytime soon.

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