John Hughes’ Weird Science is very much a male teen fantasy fulfillment. It riffs on Frankenstein while drawing in themes of self-confidence, and being who you are instead of worrying about what others think of you, because in the end, if they really like you, they’ll like you for you.
Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) are geeky guys, who are unsure of themselves, like computers, wish they could talk to girls, and are bullied by everyone, from the local ‘cool’ guys, Ian (Robert Downey Jr.) and Max (Robert Rusler), to Wyatt’s older brother, Chet (Bill Paxton).
Uncool, unloved, and alone, the duo decide to put Wyatt’s computer to use (back when no one really knew what they could do, and could be used in narratives to do almost anything), and create the perfect woman. And in an iconic entrance, the world was introduced to Lisa, brought to life by Kelly LeBrock, who definitely fit the parameters of male teen fantasy in the 80s.
Happily, the parameters that Wyatt and Gary input to the system gave Lisa not only looks, but genius level brains, so that she can actually help them with their problems before they even realize it, all of it culminates in a party that draws the attendance of all the high school kids, and thanks to Lisa’s nudging, some characters and events that will push Gary and Wyatt to stand up for, and believe in themselves, and maybe meet a couple of girls, Deb (Suzanne Snyder) and Hilly (Judie Aronson – who I crushed on just as much as LeBrock!) that learn to like them for whoever they are.
Lisa is able to manipulate and change everything around Gary and Wyatt, providing them with clothes, cars, deal with their parents, but only so far, as she wants them to learn to be themselves and be self-confident about it.
Arguably one of the most juvenile of Hughes’ films, it’s silly, is a little politically incorrect, and lets LeBrock look absolutely stunning throughout. It’s also one of his most special effects laden films with lots going on, including some early computer generated images as Gary and Wyatt hack into government computers to draw more power in their creation of Lisa.
But, it’s also undeniably fun, packed with quotable dialogue, and great 80s tunes. And honestly, Hall and Mitchell-Smith are a great on pair duo, and of course, there’s no denying the effect that LeBrock had on me through the rest of my teen years – I even watched Woman in Red because of her.
And while some of John Hughes films may not have been made today, or they’d be a lot different anyway, they remain an important, and beloved part of my teen years.