Thursday, May 13, 2010

7. Weird Science

Weird Science. Directed by John Hughes. 94 min. DVD Universal Studios. 1984, ASIN: B00008438V.

Plot Summary
Teenagers Gary and Wyatt are two socially awkward nerds who attend Shermer High School where they are constantly the victims of cruel pranks by class jerks Ian and Max. Wyatt and Gary want nothing more than to have girlfriends of their own, and since the girls at Shermer wont show them the time of day, they decide to make a girl of their own with a little help from Wyatt's state of the art computer. By hacking into the government's computer system, they are able to turn their lofty dreams of a created girlfriend into living breathing reality. They name their created beauty Lisa and she is everything they ever hoped to have in a woman. She has supermodel good looks, the mind of Albert Einstein, and can use magic like a fairy godmother. Lisa is completely devoted to her creators, and she uses her charming abilities to turn Gary and Wyatt from the nerds they are, into the coolest guys in school. With Lisa's help, Gary and Wyatt might actually loosen up and become the kind of guys that high school girls actually want to date.

Critical Evaluation
Critically evaluating a film as insane and wacky as Weird Science is a daunting task. Regardless of the film's merit, Weird Science is embedded into popular American culture whether we like it or not. The film is loosely adapted from the cult EC comics series of the same name, and the theme song by Oingo Boingo is a must have for 80's themed parties and nightclubs. John Hughes takes his comedic style and brings it to another level, by incorporating bizarre fantasy elements like an alien motorcycle gang, and a giant talking pile of feces. Out of this world elements like these give the film a definite unusual flair, and provide a world of humor through awkward situations. Actors Anthony Michael Hall and Ian Mitchell smith standout in their roles as Gary and Wyatt. Their deliverance of the entertaining dialogue is constantly on point, and their subtle quirks, whiny voices, and cartoon-like facial expressions make them right at home in Hughes zany landscape of Shermer High.

As a comedy, Weird Science delivers. Teenage boys are likely to remember the memorable Lisa for as long as they have a computer and a pulse. Don't go into this film expecting any real substance, but expect to laugh, gasp, and have a great time. For fans of comedy and science fiction this film has a definite place in library collections. The violence and sex depicted in this comedy may be a problem for some viewers, but for others it adds to the film's comical depiction of sensationalized high school life.

Reader's Annotation
For teenage nerds Gary and Wyatt getting a date is a nearly impossible task and getting a girlfriend is completely out of the question. When faced with girl problems they do what any other nerd would do, make the perfect one for themselves.

Director Information
John Hughes was an American film director, writer, and producer who worked primarily on comedies and films for teens, until his death in 2009. He started his career selling jokes and working for National Lampoon Magazine, until he found success with his second script for the film National Lampoon's Vacation. His directorial debut didn't come until 1984 with the release of the film Sixteen Candles. This film about high school life would inspire other Hughes' films like Weird Science, Ferris Bueler's Day off, and The Breakfast Club. Hughes enjoyed working on films for teens and is known for saying, "I don't think of kids as a lower form of the human species." Hughes contribution to the film industry was recognized during an Oscar tribute during the 2010 Academy Awards.


Curriculum Ties

Book Talking Ideas

What would you do if you had your own personal Lisa?

R, 17+

Challenge Issues

profanity, sex, nudity, violence

Challenge defense ideas:
1. Make sure you are familiar with your library collection and the film in question.
2. Be familiar with your library collection policy.
3. If possible, speak with the person challenging the material and make sure they feel comfortable. Ask the customer what they disliked or disapproved of in the resource. If they still insist on challenging the material give them instructions on how to file a formal complaint.
4. Research professional reviews that speak to the material's merit, and get input from teen readers on why they found the book important.

Reason For Selection
I am a really big John Hughes fan and I recently had the opportunity to watch Weird Science in a revival movie house. I had not seen the film in a very long time, and I was pleasantly surprised at just how wacky the film really is. By today's standards the film is pretty out there, but I feel that teens today will still get a kick out of the zany antics of main characters Wyatt and Gary.

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