Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Right here at the start, let me apologise for the untidy tenses that I used in the sentence which you are about to read.

I rarely like films that are set just a few years before when they were made.

They tend to portray their era more in the hazy way in which it was later recalled, than in the way in which it had actually been. For example, there'll commonly be a character listening to a famous song on the radio, that didn't actually get released until a year or so after when the film is set.

Weird Science on the other hand, made in 1985, was a contemporary 1980s movie, and as such is absolutely saturated with the styles of the first half of that decade. Today, you just couldn't make a retro movie as authentically eighties as this.

Right from the poppy opening credit-music, which features electrical sparks realised through animation, there is no doubt whatsoever that Ronald Reagan is the President, and right now he's probably either doing a Rubik's cube, or watching Dynasty.

The clothes, the hairstyles, the music, it's all in here, but in this film it all actually belongs. Nostalgia flicks will usually poke fun at such ephemera, but not so movies of the day. They champion it.

Even the mysterious home-computer is portrayed here, not as a laughable piece of low-tech rubbish, but as the pinnacle of human invention. Gary and Wyatt's Memotech MTX512 computer with FDX add-on can literally achieve the impossible, including copying Albert Einstein's intelligence from a photograph of him, and using it to spontaneously create super-powered life.

At the time of production, the humble home computer was such an unknown quantity to the general public, that no explanation was really required in the film for how it could achieve such a feat. The mere fact that it was a 'computer' was explanation enough. Most of us didn't know exactly how or what a computer did, so for it to do something so impossible wasn't exactly inconsistent with that.

To experience this assumption in the cynical real-world of 2010, therefore, is absolutely refreshing.

Weird Science will probably be the most brainless film that I watch this year. It doesn't even slightly attempt to hold-together a story, which is a good thing given how disjointed and uneven many of the scenes are. Every time I thought to myself "They could have done that bit better", I realised that I was taking it too seriously, and stopped.

For example: "Hang on, Lisa the superwoman has to obey Gary and Wyatt, and can do anything they ask, so doesn't that mean that there can be no possible threat in this story?" At one point our two heroes actually try to create a second superwoman, and for a moment it looks as though Lisa may be facing a huge super-powered battle in the second half of the film, but no.



Weird Science is as untidy as the lead characters' house, but it's supposed to be.


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