At the Movies: ''Real Genius,'' ''My Science
Project,'' ''Weird Science''|
By LEE SIEGEL, Associated Press Writer
The film world has taken one small step toward dignity for
"nerds" this summer by portraying young science wizards as
more than just brainy social rejects with thick eyeglasses,
zits and goony laughs.
The summer crop of teen science films _ "Real Genius," "My
Science Project" and "Weird Science" _ tell us that even
nerds can fall in love and be popular, despite long
laboratory hours working on a death ray, an alien space-time
warp machine and a computer-built woman.
Science nerds, of course, are those high-IQ types who carry
large briefcases filled with books, sport a pencil holder in
their shirt pockets, wear clothing that clashes and spend
most of their time hunched over computer terminals or growing
But in Tri-Star's hysterical "Real Genius," Val Kilmer plays
rebellious science wizard Chris Knight, who wears an "I love
toxic waste" T-shirt and makes clear he has sex hormones as
well as a brain. Strong chemistry develops between Gabe
Jarrett's socially humiliated teen-age prodigy and a
talkative female science buff.
Danielle Von Zerneck portrays awkward, bespectacled Ellen in
Touchstone Films' mildly interesting and amusing "My Science
Project." She becomes magnetically attracted to John
Stockwell's handsome Mike, who submits the alien space-time
warp machine for his science project because he was too busy
fixing cars to come up with his own.
But this film can't resist mocking the standard nerd image,
seen in the character Sherman, who looks and sounds like a
geek with his bottle-glass eyewear, crew cut and donkey-like
laughter. To make matters worse, Ellen drops Sherman like a
hot isotope and suddenly stops wearing her glasses as she
falls for Mike.
So much for nerd liberation.
Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith play wimpy
computer freaks in "Weird Science." They can't get girls so
they sit down at a home computer, punch a few keyboard
buttons, set off a special effects light show and presto!
machine-made sexpot Kelley LeBrock slinks out of nowhere.
She teaches Hall and Mitchell-Smith that there's no
technological fix to the problem of social isolation, and
they learn that if they're cool and self-confident, they can
attract real women. Give that woman a Nobel prize for pop
As a comedy, "Weird Science" is a big disappointment compared
with director John Hughes' earlier, funnier films, "Sixteen
Candles" and "The Breakfast Club." Director Martha Coolidge's
"Real Genius" shines in comparison, with a fast and clever
script that falters a bit, unfortunately, only during the
"Real Genius" and "My Science Project" rated PG, "Weird
Science" rated PG-13 because of sexual references.