Director: John Hughes
Starring: Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchel-Smith, Kelly LeBrock and Robert Downey Jr.
John Hughes was the 1980s master of teen comedy. Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Buller’s Day Off and Pretty in Pink all being written by him and released within a span from 1984-1986. That’s not even mentioning his family comedy classics, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Uncle Buck and multiple instalments to the National Lampoon series. He also directed several of the above. A prolific career (and that’s only one decade) that has stood the test of time. A weirder entry to his list of films is the cult classic Weird Science, written and directed by Hughes and being released in the same year as The Breakfast Club.
The premise: two geeky teenagers with no friends, who create their ideal woman using a computer. It doesn’t make any more sense in the context of the film either. Unlike his previous teen comedies, Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club, this one is clearly written for a male audience. His other films have a universal appeal, while this one starts with two teenagers ogling cheerleaders and then debating the ideal size of their creation’s chest within the first five minutes. It’s a cringy opening with humour that wouldn’t appeal to many outside of the teenage boy demographic.
Once you get passed the opening, which feels juvenile at best and sexist at worst, the film does pick up. The humour can feel dated at points, which is to be expected over thirty-five years later and it’s essentially a male fantasy story, but there is still some chuckles to be had, especially with the more absurdist moments. The moment they create Lisa is bonkers, it makes no sense at all and as it’s happening the world goes crazy, dogs are on the ceiling, lightning is striking down. After Lisa’s appearance the film also picks up and has some funny moments. Kelly LeBrock gives a good performance as Lisa, bringing a nice sense of humour.
The main leads, Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchel-Smith are fine. Nothing spectacular, but they are good enough. It’s not believable that either of them are awkward geeks, but they stop the film from becoming too creepy in some moments. There is a moment in a club, when both of them are drunk and just plain annoying. That whole sequence could have been deleted and the film would be half a star better already. There is also a very young Robert Downy Jr., showing his acting skills
Like over films that Hughes’ wrote, this does feel like it captures the teenage life. The dialogue is well written and the characters feel realistic enough to carry the plot along. The music is also great. Overall Weird Science is the weakest of Hughes teen comedies. It may be seen as a classic by those that remember it coming out, but looking at it now it’s dated, not funny enough and too awkward. Which is a real shame because Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club both still feel fresh and relevant today and are genuinely great films.