A Look Back: Weird Science

In fairy tales, the protagonist is presented with a series of seemingly impossible challenges – such as spinning gold from straw, solving cryptic riddles, or washing blood from permanently stained clothes (in the pre-detergent era) before getting the guy or the girl. In romantic movies, the hero or heroine is also called upon to perform similarly difficult deeds – such as cleaning up a house-trashing party, buying a cake and lighting all the candles without burning oneself in a short enough span of time that one can celebrate a lovesick girl’s birthday before the parents arrive home (“Sixteen Candles”). Or holding up a boombox for an extended period of time outside a window (surely, after a few minutes, your arms might start to feel a little funny). But characters in movies are endowed with superhuman persistence and perseverance – although the ones who might take the trophy are those who decide to create their own love interest from scratch, such as occurs in the eighties classic “Weird Science.”

The John Hughes-directed movie stars Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith (who went on to become a college professor) as resourceful teen outcasts who create the ideal woman via computer. It also features Kelly LeBrock, whose modeling career produced one of the most obnoxious lines in advertising history: “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” (And probably had more than one female viewer yell at the TV, “OK then, how about because you’re conceited!”) The title is additionally a song by Oingo Boingo. So again, Hughes has hit the trifecta producing a film with geeky but sympathetic protagonists, a love interest (literally) from another hemisphere, and an instantly recognizable pop song. The plot is standard teen movie fare with such standbys as bullies (Robert Downey without the Jr. as one), an out-of-control house party, snazzy sports cars to cruise in, etc., but also incorporates science – of a sort – the government computer system, high range nuclear missiles and a biker gang. In the eighties, movie teens (such as Matthew Broderick in “War Games”) did hack into the government, but rather than to start World War III, Anthony and Ilan choose the less harmful alternative: a super-woman called Lisa.

Our heroes’ quest for social acceptability begins after they get humiliated at school by Robert and his sidekick, return home, face more abuse at the hands of Bill Paxton (Ilan’s older brother) and decide that they’re not gonna take it anymore. Thus the wacky sequence in which the duo successfully manages to conjure up Kelly, who is something else – although (spoiler alert) she does not actually sleep with either boy in the film thus avoiding the date rapey vibes of the aforementioned “Sixteen Candles.” As you watch the movie, though, following Anthony and Ilan through the night – there will be more embarrassments and danger along the way as they come to realize that – newsflash – it’s self-confidence, not cockiness that attracts the opposite sex – including Bill being turned into an animatronic turd and repenting of his bullying ways. So all in all, their quest is a success. And don’t hate the actors because neither of them got anywhere with Kelly off the set being a lot younger. Plus, at the time, her boyfriend was Steven Seagal,


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