Ben’s second film this time around was just as goofy as his first, though in a completely different, tongue-in-cheek way. But first, we needed a short, so I dug up this gem from Mystery Science Theater 3000 called “Why Study Industrial Arts?”
It’s basically a little film that makes wood shop teachers feel better about their sad, pathetic existences. (Sorry, Mr. Rupp, just calling it like it is. Incidentally, I do still blame you for “the bandsaw incident”. You of all people should have known better than to distract a student while operating dangerous machinery.)
That bit of high-school students doing wood shop was basically intended to offset our feature presentation, a John Hughes ’80s teen fantasy about high-school students doing…science? I guess? You’ve probably seen it, but it was named after the Oingo Boingo title song: Weird Science.
John Hughes films often ask you to suspend your disbelief. The Breakfast Club asks you to believe that over the course of a single day, several high school students who hate each other can forge meaningful bonds of friendship. (Seriously, have you ever MET a high0school student?) Ferris Bueller’s Day Off asks you to believe that a principal will leave his school to chase after a single truant. And Weird Science asks you to believe that two kids with a computer marginally better than a TRS-80 can create a flesh-and-blood woman with magical powers out of a Barbie doll. But let’s get on with it.
So we start with two high school losers – Anthony Michael Hall and That Other Guy. They appear to spend all of their time creepily lusting after the girls in gym class while concocting elaborate fantasies about how great their lives would be if they were only cool and could be popular with the chicks. Reality, of course, mugs them in the form of having their pants dropped in full view of a girls’ P.E. class by their antagonists.
What could be worse than giving all the girls in the school a glimpse of your tighty-whiteys? How about a weekend being supervised by That Other Guy’s military-school older brother Chet. What do you do? Well, first, if you’re Anthony Michael Hall you just take off and nuke the entire site from orbit, right? Yeah, you’d think so. He’s got his own home. But instead he sticks around and the boys watch the original Frankenstein on TV. It gives Anthony Michael Hall an idea.
And no, the idea wasn’t to point out that a caption joke really doesn’t work because that’s technically not a Voronoi tessellation. The idea was even more radical – to make their very own girl! I mean, hey, they’re teenaged nerds! They’ve got a computer with, like, 64 kilobytes of RAM! The world is their oyster!
Oddly enough, the Memotech MTX512 (thanks, Wikipedia!) appears to already have come installed with the Build Your Own Woman program, a very nice touch which probably saved a ton of time for the girl-bane losers who would buy a cutting-edge home computer like that.
Of course, they dialed up the breasts too large, so they ran out of computing power and had to hack into a government mainframe with their handset modem. The above is a picture of what such an operation looked like in 1985. The goverment was very kind to provide their friendly neighborhood hackers with a 3-D maze which had only two paths, one leading to a skull and bones that kindly informs you that this is NOT the correct way to hack into the mainframe and the other which eventually gives you access. It’s kind of like a crappy video game except it has only one level and you don’t have to do anything. Not even guess a password like “password” or “123456”. You want access? No problem, just don’t give up when you see the scary skull and crossbones and we’ll know you’re OK.
Of course, even with the government computer power added to their own (512K! Bow before my three-page text document!) they actually need something to reanimate. Apparently, nobody ever taught these kids (and, to be fair, they’re science geeks not English geeks) the definition of the prefix “re-“, so they selected a barbie doll. And put bras on their heads.
That really wasn’t explained.
The other thing that wasn’t explained – and this is a crucial question given that That Other Guy doesn’t actually have any sisters – is the following: exactly whose Barbie doll is that, anyway? But these are not questions worthy of a film with so many deeper plot holes.
And lo and behold, once they hit the go button (and following some really sciencey effects and lightning and clouds and stuff) there’s a real live Kelly LeBrock coming out of the bathroom.
The worst part is that this is really just the setup. There’s a lot of movie left here.
The whole movie goes about like you’d expect, at least if you expected Kelly LeBrock to have the typical genie-in-a-bottle powers and to deliver a powerful life lesson. The life lesson is two-fold: First, they have to learn to stick up for themselves, and second, they probably don’t really want to hang with the cool crowd anyway, because it kind of sucks and any girls really worth worrying about will love them for just who they are anyway. The genie-in-the-bottle powers, meanwhile, are basically used to give Anthony Michael Hall and That Other Guy temporary Porsches and Ferraris, to clean up (or really, undo) messes small and large just before parents gets home, and to generally cause retrograde amnesia for basically anybody who witnessed anything over the entire weekend unless they need to remember it to make the life lesson meaningful.
You know, that’s actually a pretty damn good summary of the movie. Almost everything that happens doesn’t really happen – Anthony Michael Hall’s mother doesn’t scream in horror “You said you were combing your hair!”; a Patriot missile doesn’t come up out of That Other Guy’s basement; a shocked pair of grandparents doesn’t get pithed and stuffed in the closet. But there are a few things that DO happen.
Some guy and Robert Downey, Jr. do play the bully antagonist and end up losing their girlfriends over their childish behavior.
The bullies’ former girlfriends do fall for Anthony Michael Hall and That Other Guy just because they met them in the bathroom at the epic party at That Other Guy’s house.
Anthony Michael Hall and That Other Guy do confront the bizarre biker gang conjured up by Kelly LeBrock to ride through That Other Guy’s house and wreck stuff and lick their new girlfriends’ faces, stuff like that.
And Kelly LeBrock does turn Chet temporarily into a huge kernel of huitlacoche, just because that’s what his inner self looks like.
That’s kind of your movie. In the end the nerds have new girlfriends and no longer have to take crap from the bullies and Chet, and Kelly LeBrock goes on to charitably become a high school gym teacher, specializing in boys’ P.E. classes. So very nice of her and her leotard, don’t you think?