Off the Shelf: ‘Weird Science’

For one reason or another, the Blu-ray edition of John Hughes’ 1985 comedy ‘Weird Science’ never got sufficient coverage here at High-Def Digest. My intent isn’t to provide a full review of the disc, but rather to offer random (and often silly) observations in the hopes of sparking readers’ comments and memories (the good, the bad, and the ugly) about the movie.

Weird Science

Theatrical Release Date: August 2, 1985
Blu-ray Release Date: October 13, 2013
Directed by: John Hughes
Starring: Anthony Michael Hall, the Ex-Mrs. Steven Seagal, Pvt. Hudson, Iron Man, and that kid with the high-pitched voice no one remembers.
Budget: $7.5 million ($17 million in 2017 dollars)
Box Office Gross Worldwide: $39 million ($88.6 million in 2017 dollars)

The Plot in a Sentence

A pair of nerdy and horny high school students use their home computer to create a real-life supermodel.

Best Reason to Watch

Seeing a young Bill Paxton having the time of his life playing Chet Donnelly, the older and very obnoxious brother of one of the two teenage leads.

Worst Reason to Watch

Unlike most of Hughes’ other movies, the characters in this one have very little depth. Much of the film is just an excuse for sight gags and lots of 1980s special effects.

Best Song Used

You’ll be humming Oingo Boingo’s title song “Weird Science” long after your viewing is over.

Worst Song Used

Why use Bill Conti’s ‘Rocky’ theme in the last moments? Just because the ‘Rocky’ movies were super popular in the mid-’80s? That attempt at humor doesn’t work.

Best Song Not Used

Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me with Science” came out in 1982 and would have been a perfect fit. Did Hughes ever ask to use the song in the movie? Who knows? It would have been a perfect fit.

Well-Known Fact

This was John Hughes’ third movie in a row where he used Anthony Michael Hall as a main character. The prior two, of course, were ‘The Breakfast Club’ and ‘Sixteen Candles’.

Not-So-Well-Known Fact

Anthony Michael Hall turned down the chance to reprise his role as Rusty Griswold in ‘National Lampoon’s European Vacation’ to do this movie. Good move? Mistake? It’s probably a wash.

The Power of the Pen

A noted fast writer, John Hughes wrote the script for ‘Weird Science’ in just two days. Maybe he should have taken an extra day or two?

Best Scene

Computer creation Lisa (Kelly LeBrock) chewing out Gary’s mother and father for being poor parents to their son.

Worst Scene(s)

Seeing Anthony Michael Hall spend about ten minutes of the movie doing a borderline racist (at least by 2017 standards) African-American impersonation after getting drunk in a bar.

Tony Stark Sighting

Yes, the future Iron Man is part of the cast. Robert Downey, Jr. (the credits omit the “Jr.”) plays a classmate of Gary and Wyatt, and is a total ass to both of them.

‘Road Warrior’ Connection

John Hughes cast ‘The Road Warrior’ star Vernon Wells to play one of the bikers seen during the movie’s big party scene. Wells is dressed almost identically to his depiction of Wez from the ‘Mad Max’ film. Here, his character’s name is Lord General.

Best Line in ‘Weird Science’

“Stop hitting people with your Rex Harrison hat!”

Worst Line(s) in ‘Weird Science’

All the lines Anthony Michael Hall spouts during his drunk scenes (see above).

Thing That Made Me Go “Hmmmm…”

There’s a scene in a mall where our heroes get an ICEE dumped on their heads from above by their high school enemies. The amount of liquid in the cup in no way matches the gallon of ICEE that lands on Gary and Wyatt. Weird science, indeed.

Best Thing About the Blu-ray

A 16 ½-minute retrospective (shot in 2008 and ported over from the DVD release) featuring Anthony Michael Hall and others (including film critic Owen Gleiberman and screenwriter Diablo Cody) discussing their memories of the film.

“She’s Alive… Again!”

Universal Studios has been mulling over the idea of a reboot of the movie for a few years now. Will it ever happen? Will they be smart enough to hire Margot Robbie? Here’s hoping.

Worth Picking Up?

Borderline, but yes. ‘Weird Science’ is definitely one of the lesser movies in the John Hughes canon, but the Bill Paxton performance and ’80s nostalgia still make this one worth a look.

13 comments

  1. NJScorpio

    This was back when ‘geek culture’ wasn’t what it was…and wasn’t even considered a ‘culture’…and I miss it. Same thing with ‘Revenge of the Nerds’. It takes this and combines it with the teen-sex-comedy that also has changed over time.

    If ‘Weird Science’ was made today, I don’t think it would have been framed as the geeky characters who can’t get a woman using science to create their own knockout super model. I feel like the main characters would still be “geeks”, but in the more socially accepted manner now, and also somehow be on the school athletic teams. They wouldn’t be desperate, loaner geeks who are driven by their inability to connect with women, but some other premise that doesn’t play off of such stereotypical social awkwardness. Like an A.I. experiment or something. It would be terrible movie. Actually, it’d probably be Ex Machina.

  2. cardpetree

    Anthony Michael Hall’s drunk scene in the bar is easily the best and funniest scene in the movie other than any scene Chet is in.

  3. Csm101

    Weird Science is one of my top 80’s comedies. I can’t really find any fault with it. It makes me laugh today as much as it did back then. Maybe it’s the nostalgia, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it except maybe a better bluray master.

  4. DarthTrumpus

    I think a lot of the scenes in this movie would be problematic today (the shower scene) and just the idea that two horny high school boys “create” a woman they can perve on, even if it is clear in the end that Lisa is in charge. The early scenes where she appears to be only interested in fulfilling their sexual desires (even if they are too “geeky” to do anything) wouldn’t fly today.
    The only way you could MAYBE get away with it is if they flip the genders and have two socially awkward girls (of legal age) create a dream guy. Even then it would be problematic and feel like it was treading close to Chris Hansen territory.

    • Chris B

      Add to that the scene wher AMH is telling off the bikers and uses the term “faggot friends. I doubt that would fly today.

  5. Pedram

    I loved this movie as a kid, and I wondered if I would like it as an adult. Out of my fondness for it, I bought the Blu-Ray, and watched it again with my brother. I still loved it as an adult! Man, Lisa was a teenage boy’s dream! A beautiful woman that gets you a Porsche and makes you cool? And is crazy hot to boot? Who wouldn’t want that?

    Who cares about how PC this wasn’t or how it wouldn’t fly today. Why do we need to analyze things so much? I don’t see anything wrong with what was in the movie. There is far worse content in movies today. This is probably my favourite Hughes movie – although I know many people won’t agree.

    Best scene: the one in the picture at the beginning of this article.

    • NJScorpio

      I don’t know if it was already a Weekend Roundtable topic, but I’d love to discuss movies from our childhood that don’t hold up today.

      For me, unfortunately, that is ‘Wayne’s World’.

      • Pedram

        For me there aren’t any big stand-out movies that didn’t hold up off the top of my head – except for maybe Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was in heaven seeing that in the theatre as a kid. After buying the 4 pack Blu-Ray that comes in a pizza box case, I watched the first one again, and while it was amusing because of the nostalgia and good memories, I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I did as a kid. I wouldn’t say it was bad, however.

        I can’t say the same thing for some shows though. I loved Knight Rider and Thundercats as a kid, but I could only get through a few episodes of each as an adult. I might give Thundercats another try one day to see the story from start to finish, but I don’t think I could make it through the same rinse & repeat episode structure (save a hot girl from some injustice in a small town) of Knight Rider.

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