“We know about the reality. Don’t ruin the fantasy.”
John Hughes ruled the early 80s with coming of ages stories involving teenagers. Although not a teenager himself, Hughes wrote scripts like he never forgot what it was like to be a teenager. Hughes had to make his teenagers a little more sophisticated than teenagers actually were, but he knew what made them tic. Unlike writers and directors today who make their teenager characters almost fully fledged adults, the teenagers in his movies dealt with teenage problems while still acting like teenagers.
Movies like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Beuller’s Day Off showed a side of the teenage experience rarely seen before or since on the silver screen. Troubled home lives, uncertain futures, and figuring out a place in the world are just a few of the subjects Hughes’s movies touched on. No matter the movie Hughes always injected a sense of humor into his movies.
“What would you little maniacs like to do first?”
On the surface Weird Science seems like it’s the complete opposite of Hughes’s other movies. It’s a little science-fiction. Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create a woman (Kelly Lebrock) from a computer using pictures clipped from magazines, pictures, videos, batteries, cables, and a whole lot of power hacked over a dial up modem. The result is the two boys fantasy woman, Lisa.
Weird Science is also a little bit of fantasy film. It’s not fantasy film in the same sense as Lord of the Rings, but a fantasy as in a dream. What teenage boy would not want to have a gorgeous older woman at their beck and call? It’s been every unpopular teenager’s dream to become popular, to be invited to the best parties, and have a lot of friends. It’s been this way since high schools were invented. Thanks to Lisa, Gary and Wyatt’s every fantasy comes true.
Weird Science also blends in a little gross and sophomoric humor into the mix. Anyone who has already seen Weird Science can never forget Lisa turning Chet (Bill Paxton) into turd. The party that ends the movie has a girl playing a piano stripped naked and sucked up a chimney. Ian and Max (Robert Downey, Jr and Robert Rusler) torment Gary and Wyatt. In the begining of the movie the bullies yank their gym shorts down in front of a group girls. Later they dump a slushee on the duo.
“I want you to like me for what I am.”
Once the science fiction, the fantasy, and the gross is stripped away Weird Science fits very nicely into Hughes’s cannon of other teen films. Gary and Wyatt are outcasts like some members of The Breakfast Club. They have no friends and at least more than one bully picking on them at a time. From outward appearances they’ve spent more than one Friday night by themselves talking about what they would do if they were popular and had girlfriends.
The ending confirms Weird Science as a legitimate addition to Hughes’s teen film cannon. Gary and Wyatt get the girls and learn a lot about themselves in the process. They didn’t need the fast cars or the wild parties to impress Deb and Hilly. They didn’t the flash or the money to win over either girl. But they did need Lisa. Lisa gave them confidence and learn how to be themselves.
Weird Science is more comedy than The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, or even Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. But there’s just as much emotion in the final scene between Gary, Wyatt, and Lisa as there is in any of Hughes’s other movies. Lisa may be out of Gary and Wyatt’s lives but maybe, somewhere in Shermer, IL., she’s still helping nerds and geeks.
“I’m even considering makin’ up some shit!”
Arrow Video has packed Weird Science with a lot of extras. The original theatrical release is, of course, included. Its been restored to 1080p standards. The blu-ray also includes an extended cut of the movie. Extended may be a very generous word to use. There are only two “new” scenes included in the extended version. These two scenes, like most scenes cut from a movie, are not pivotal to the movie. With only two new scenes it doesn’t change the movie if these scenes were restored to the movie or not. There are other scenes mentioned in the extra interviews (Robert Downey Jr and Robert Rulser in donkey and pig make up would have been the better scene to included) mentioned that would have been a lot more fun to see. In fact, these two “new” scenes could have remained on the cutting room floor forever.
“Your basic high school orgy type a thing”
Weird Science, like a lot of movies of the day, found a second home on basic cable. More people more than likely saw the movie on cable as did in the theaters. As a result, Weird Science gained a sort of cult following. Today’s viewers are use to seeing a little more skin and harsher language on television than audiences in the 80s or even 90s. As a result of stricter network guidelines studios would often make a cut for the theater and one for cable. The cable version may have been shorter or sometimes even longer than the original. Shorter or longer version the cable version always had the best voice overs.
Arrows best extra is the cable version of the movie. The movie hasn’t been cleaned up or restored. It’s being presented the way it was seen years ago. The best part of the movie are the voice overs. You didn’t hear Lisa tell Gary’s parents the party they were going to would involve candle wax on the nipples. That line wouldn’t pass censors. Instead Lisa said the now classic cable line “candle wax on their pimples.” It’s not the version we’ve all come to know and love, but it’s a classic none the less.
The are four other short extras worth noting. There’s an interview with the casting director. She explains how she cast one or two of the actors. The interview doesn’t lend much credence to the fact that most directors already have their main cast picked out before production begins on a movie. There’s a short interview with the make up artist who created Chet the turd, or as he calls him “the Chet blob,” and a short interview with John Kapelos who played Dino. Kapelos also appeared in Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club. There’s an interview with the composer and one of the editors. These extras run about thirty minutes.
The longest extra is a celebration of sorts. It’s Alive: Resurrecting Weird Science collects interviews from fans and cast of the movie, including Michael Anthony Hall. The included booklet includes two essays about the movie (Full disclosure: I have not seen It’s Alive: Resurrecting Weird Science or read the essays as not to influence this review).
In a throwback type extra, which is fitting with a movie originally made in the 80s, the blu-ray includes a PDF of the original shooting script. If you still have a laptop or a desktop with CD drive pop the disc in and read away. Search the internet if your computer is lacking a CD drive.
“You forgot to hook up the doll.”
Arrow Video has done an awesome job restoring the film. It’s outdone itself on the steel book case. If you’re an old fan or a recent convert you will not be disappointed. If you’ve never seen Weird Science Arrow Video’s edition of the classic John Hughes movie is the right blu-ray for you to see what you’ve been missing out on for decades.