Saturday, 26 February 2011

80s Movies: Weird Science (1985)

If you watch just one 1985 teen sci-fi movie this year, make it Back to the Future. But if you've had enough of paradoxes and jigowatts and you'd much rather see Kelly LeBrock in her prime, watch Weird Science. She pretty much single-handedly carries this movie in the way that, for example, Liz Hurley doesn't quite manage to do in 2000's Bedazzled.

So much happens in Weird Science that it's hard to know quite what to say about it. This might be one of those movies that you just have to watch - otherwise it's like saying Ferris Bueller's Day Off is about him 'not going to school'. It just doesn't quite encapsulate the full story, does it?

Also, just the briefest of mentions here for Bill Paxton - a muchly undervalued actor who pops up in quite a few of my favourite movies (Twister, in particular) but is often given fairly one-dimensional characters. As Chet in Weird Science, he doesn't exactly buck that trend, but it's still fun to see him playing that numbskull role for which he's become so well known.

The Plot

This is definitely a movie for the boys. I can't really think of a good girl comparison... I mean, it would be like using magic glitter to create a limitless supply of nice shoes or something. What Weird Science actually does is uses a weird storm to make a superhot chick (Kelly LeBrock as Lisa) using some crocodile clips and a Barbie doll. It's not entirely clear how that works (sadly) but by the looks of things, it does a pretty good job.

Unfortunately for Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith), Lisa turns out to be a bit of a sociopath. Most of Weird Science revolves around her basically ruining the boys' lives, Cat in the Hat style. In fact, this is basically The Cat in the Hat for adolescents - complete with last-minute redemption and reparation of the trashed house. I suppose that's not so bad, but it does make it feel a little like 'it was all a dream'.

The Music

Weird Science is a pretty great movie, but its theme song is even greater. Oingo Boingo (fronted by Danny Elfman, who went on to compose soundtracks including the original music for 1989's Batman) deliver a genius six minutes of balanced vocals and instrumentals, with one of my favourite lines from any theme song ever: "My creation! Is it reeeeeeal?"

Other great tracks to make it into the movie include Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, (Oh) Pretty Woman (the Van Halen version) and Kim Wilde's Turn It On. OK, that last one might not have gone down in history as a truly great composition, but I love Kim Wilde. It's good to see her on the soundtrack of one of the 80s' most ingenious movies - she played a huge part in making that decade what it was.


OK, so Back to the Future won the battle back in 1985, but Telltale Games gave Weird Science a nod in their videogame Back to the Future Episode One: check out the made-over cartoony poster over Marty's right shoulder...

80s Movies

In February, POPSICULTURE are dedicating the month to a look back at the iconic films of the 1980s - a decade whose films continue to draw massive audiences when they are shown on TV. To follow posts in this series, check the 80s Movies label or sign up to the dedicated RSS feed.

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