Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Science Project (1985) - Fair at Best

On the Menu: MY SCIENCE PROJECT (1985)

Ingredients: John Stockwell, Fisher Stevens, Dennis Hopper, Danielle von Zerneck, Raphael Sbarge, Richard Masur and Barry Corbin. Directed by Jonathan R. Betuel. Run time: 94 minutes. Rated: PG.

At First Bite: I first heard about this movie about three or four years ago from one of my then-coworkers, Paul. It sounded like something fun, so I added it to my Blockbuster queue. And, since my queue is consistently about 5-6 pages long, the DVD finally just made its way to my mailbox.

Michael Harlan (Stockwell) is a slacker, who is going to fail his science class unless he comes up with an amazing project. He's leaning toward something to do with cars since he's obsessed with them.

Looking for all the help he can get, Mike takes Ellie (von Zerneck), the nerdy girl, on a "date" to the old military junkyard. He stumbles upon a glowing device (almost like a plasma globe inside a metallic carrying case) with an affinity for sucking up all the electricity around it, including all the power to Mike's 1968 GTO.

Mike, his buddy, Vince (Stevens), and Ellie take the "gizmo" to their science teacher, Bob Roberts (Hopper). The gizmo goes berserk and sends Mr. Roberts back in time.

If that isn't bad enough, Ellie's even nerdier stalker, Sherman (Sbarge), happens upon the device. While Mike and Vince have been detained by police, the gizmo ends up taking over the high school by rupturing spacetime and introducing mutants, gladiators and dinosaurs to 1985.


Does that mean Mike will still fail science?

Tough to Swallow: It's a silly movie all around. I honestly didn't look to nitpick this one to death. If anything, the acting could have been better, how would anyone believe a teen built the gizmo and why didn't anyone other than the kids notice the school had become the center of a major time warp?

I like John Stockwell. He was Cougar in TOP GUN. He directed BLUE CRUSH (one of my favorite guilty-pleasure movies). He looks the part of a slacker, but, as a lead actor, he's really hard to look at for 94 minutes.

Stevens's one-liners are hit-and-miss.

Something to Chew On: The movie was released August 9, 1985, which was 37 days after BACK TO THE FUTURE hit theaters. WEIRD SCIENCE (Aug. 2) and REAL GENIUS (Aug. 7) were two more sci-fi flicks that beat MY SCIENCE PROJECT to the punch. No wonder I had never heard of it before. Kinda reminds me of everyone seeing BIG enough times to memorize it, but not knowing about VICE VERSA, 18 AGAIN! or LIKE FATHER LIKE SON.

This film was Betuel's directorial debut. Ten years later, he helmed one of the worst movies of all-time: THEODORE REX.

Hopper dons an outfit from EASY RIDER for a scene where Mr. Roberts has been to the '60s.

A line of dialogue references the movie CHRISTINE, which also stars Stockwell.

Several TV shows are referenced, such as "The Flintstones," "Magnum, P.I.," "McCloud," "Kojak" and "The Brady Bunch."

Stevens went on to appear in Tim Robbins's 1992 directorial debut BOB ROBERTS, which sadly had nothing to do with Hopper's science teacher character of the same name.

The film currently has a 5.5 user rating on IMDb.com (1,812 votes).

Sides: There are no special features on the DVD.

Aftertaste: It's an '80s teen sci-fi flick. It's nowhere near as cool as BACK TO THE FUTURE, WEIRD SCIENCE or REAL GENIUS. It's definitely a notch below those although some of the effects are decent. The acting is okay. Stevens is the comic relief and livens things up a little.

I'm not going to say this is a movie you should run out and buy/rent. However, if you're a fan of the genre, I think you'll be entertained despite (or because of) the cheese factor.

I wanted to see it just to say, "I've seen it."

I will say that it might be Hopper's 3rd best film of the '80s behind BLUE VELVET and HOOSIERS.

RIP Dennis Hopper.


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