Weird Science: Making geeky cool

Carley digs out another 1980s John Hughes gem: it's Weird Science, with Kelly LaBrock...

John Hughes' Weird Science

In my last article I wrote a bit of homage to my favourite John Hughes movie, The Breakfast Club. However, as I mentioned, this was not the only gem he was responsible for in the 80s.

Weird Science was released in 1985 and starred Hughes favourite, Antony Michael Hall, 80s pin-up Kelly LeBrock (later to be seen, weirdly enough, in Hell’s Kitchen) and Superboy‘s pal Ilan Mitchell-Smith.

Hall and Smith play best friends Gary and Wyatt. The pair can’t catch a break with the girls in the school and are bullied by their classmates (check out Robert Downey Jr in an early role), and by Wyatt’s army brat older brother Chet.

Fed up with their lack of love life, they decide one night to make a girl who has brains as well as looks. The result is LeBrock’s Lisa, a supermodel with the brain of Einstein and the ability to make things happen. Soon they are wearing the latest fashion, driving around in sports cars and becoming the most popular guys in school.

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In-between this, the most amazing things begin happen to the hapless pair, including getting drunk in a jazz bar, fighting off a band of mutants at a house party and finding themselves girlfriends.

As with a lot of Hughes movies, he goes for the big laugh. Gary and Wyatt’s reactions to the unravelling of their lives as Lisa takes over are great, and there is a particularly strong scene with Hall when he is in the jazz bar chilling with the boys. But what the movie doesn’t lose, and rather revealingly of the style of Hughes’ storytelling, is its heart.

The early 80s were full of sex comedies and although this movie could have followed suit and done a Porky’s, it doesn’t. As with the majority of Hughes movies, it keeps the theme of if you are true to yourself, good things will happen. But that’s what makes this movie stand out of other 80s teen comedies. Hell, even nineties and noughties teen comedies use sex as their only basis for comedy. Having watched Sex Drive a couple of weekends ago, I can’t help but think it could have learned a few lessons from the Weird Science template.

Hughes never really made another comedy like Weird Science, but what he did leave was a great example of how to do teen comedy right, elements of which feed into the wonderful Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which I will be tackling next…