We Bought a Zoo
A widowed father played by Matt Damon moves to the South Californian country and purchases a zoo with his family
On Film4: 6 Sep 6:25PM
Two high school nerds use their computer to create the perfect woman. Teen comedy from John Hughes starring brat packer Anthony Michael Hall and Kelly LeBrock
How do you follow up an angsty teen comedy like The Breakfast Club? In John Hughes' case, by bashing out another teen comedy, only this time, with a brace of horny young Frankensteins in place of all the alienation. Lacking the sensitivity and intelligence of Hughes' best films ( Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Planes, Trains and Automobiles), Weird Science is an odd mix of risqué shenanigans, puerile pranks and dubious gender politics. It also happens to be very funny.
The laughing stock of their school, Garry (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) are home one night watching Bride Of Frankenstein when they hit upon the idea of making their own woman. Naturally, they try and do so via Wyatt's computer, and it's not long before they're taking a shower with Lisa (Kelly LeBrock), a total babe who turns out to be a whiz in the kitchen and great at taking care of all the boys' problems. For the first time in their lives, Gary and Wyatt feel like regular guys. But then they get cocky and attempt to create a second dream girl, a mistake that results in Wyatt's home playing host to a nuclear missile.
With its broad comedy and bare flesh, Weird Science is far more geared to a male audience than other Hughes pictures. Indeed, you have to wonder how healthy it is to suggest that young men want nothing more from women than a great body, excellent culinary skills and a willingness to pander to their every whim. That said, come the end of the movie, there is at least some suggestion of what constitutes a healthy relationship as Lisa imparts the boys some valuable life lessons beyond the sack and kitchen. Regardless of whether or not it's politically correct, British-raised brunette Kelly LeBrock is a more interesting approximation of the perfect woman than the traditional blonde Hollywood bimbo. She plays the role with a wonderful knowing streak and is spectacularly camp to boot.
LeBrock's not the only notable casting either. While hiring Anthony Michael Hall to play a dork isn't particularly imaginative, it's fun to see him share screen time with the young Robert Downey Jr. The real coup, however, is a fantastically unpleasant performance from Bill Paxton as Wyatt's obnoxious elder brother Chet.
Weird Science also benefits from Hughes' movie awareness. Not that including clips from James Whale's Frankenstein sequel in a film about manufacturing females is a particularly inspired move. But when it comes to having Wyatt's house invaded by mutant bikers, Hughes plays a masterstroke by ensuring the gatecrashers include Mad Max 2's Vernon Wells and the original The Hills Have Eyes' Michael Berryman. With neat references like that, you can almost forgive the writer-director his juvenile excesses.
It's not Hughes' best work, but Weird Science is a fun fantasy complete with notable performances and memorable cameos.
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