On Blu Ray from Mon 22 Jul 2019.
It’s a sad thing to have to say, but arguably the time for John Hughes films has passed. While his particular brand of teen rebellion gave a voice to the teens and twenty-somethings of the 80s; looking back it’s become almost quaint and at times disconcerting. While Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club show an idealised, if heightened idea of America of the time, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Weird Science are his forays into rollercoaster-like screwball comedy. The trouble is increasingly the concept of a Roald Dahl story by way of MAD Magazine isn’t that appealing.
The plot of Weird Science is simple enough. Two hapless fifteen-year-old nerds have a weekend sleepover while parents are away. After watching a bevvy of Frankenstein films, they set about creating a simulation of an ideal woman on their computer. Somehow, by feeding pages of playboy into a scanner, and hammering some keys, this works and Lisa (Kelly LeBrock) appears fully formed in their bedroom. She’s beautiful, charming, eager to please them, and has almost godlike powers to change matter and reality around her.
Of course, this being a John Hughes film, the two boys don’t have a clue what to do, so Lisa drags them to bars, invites half the town to the house for a party, and manipulates events to try and make them popular and happy. This inevitably leads to absolute madcap carnage, but ultimately an upbeat if slightly nonsensical and unsatisfying ending.
It’s not a film entirely without merit, as there are moments of genuine ingenuity, particularly the inventive make-up and effects during the more bizarre moments. Standouts include the iconic scene of the late, great Bill Paxton, being transformed into a strange farting frog-toad creature, and the moment a nuclear missile grows out of the floor. Anthony Michael Hall chews up every scene he’s in as the weirder of the protagonists, Gary, but the whole never quite manages to come together in any meaningful way.
Still, much as with Ferris Bueller, it’s a film that will seem almost perfect to a twelve year old boy watching it for the first time. Anyone older will probably find the random inconsistency of it all tiring.
If you do fall into such a category, or have a great nostalgic love of Hughes, then this release doesn’t shirk on content. There are three separate cuts of the film; the theatrical, an extended version with two minor deleted scenes added back in, and the hilariously badly swear-dubbed TV edit. As well as the usual trailers and an archive documentary from a previous DVD release, Arrow has also added in a swathe of new interviews with crew and supporting cast.