Weird Science

“It’s one of those roles that I knew I had nailed to the barn door even while we were shooting it. I remember I wanted to get that haircut for the movie, and Michael Germain, who was the hairdresser and was a friend of mine from a movie called Streets of Fire that I had done about a year or two before, was afraid to cut my hair that short. He was worried that he was gonna get in trouble with John Hughes and Joel Silver, who produced movie. And I said, ‘No, please. I just want to show up on the set.’ The first shot I ever shot in that movie was the scene where I pull up in, I don’t know, it’s like a Bronco, it’s all camouflage, and I get out and I’ve got my shotgun in one hand, and like this one duck in the other hand, and I’m kind of seeing the cars in the driveway. And I said, ‘Let me just show up on the set. I don’t even want them to see it.’ So, the hairdresser was this guy from the ’50s and he kept it a little long on the sides and it just looked like an aircraft carrier on top. When I walked onto the set in that outfit they were just completely floored. And when they saw the dailies, they went, ‘Man, don’t change a thing.'”
– Bill Paxton

Probably the silliest of John Hughes’ 80s teen comedies, this story of a couple of high school nerds who conjure up the woman of their dreams with a computer and a Barbie doll exemplifies the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for.”

One of the minor pleasures of watching this movie again, fifteen years later, is marveling over the antique computer equipment the boys use. Five and a quarter inch floppies! An acoustical coupler for the modem! (If I remember correctly, acoustical couplers were incapable of handling modem speeds greater than 2400 baud. Which, in those days, we thought was screaming.) And Anthony Michael Hall—most recently spotted playing Bill Gates—was always my favorite of the Brat Packers. He’s looking remarkably fresh and newly-minted here.

As for Bill, he plays Chet Donnelly, the Big Brother From Hell. He’s loud, he’s overbearing, he’s a petty martinet bent on running roughshod over everything in his path. There’s a sort of innocence in his cheerful savagery, as if he simply doesn’t understand why the universe should not be his toy. One of Bill’s classic roles, he’s a commanding presence from the moment he first appears standing regally at the top of the stairs in his underwear. His part isn’t huge, but it’s probably as much as the movie could handle without exploding.

Chet! Chet! Chet! Throw that towel down!

Two stars for the movie, and three stars for Bill’s butt.

Dead or Alive?