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Monday, May 13, 2019

My Science Project (1985)






Time to get around to a frequent tape rental from my video store days. I remember picking this one up the week it came out and I was surprised by how much I liked it. I proceeded to rent it every Friday for a few weeks in a row. I’ve not seen it in years, so the big question is if I’ll still dig it like I used to? Only one way to find out.

The action kicks off in nineteen fifty-seven when the military recover a crashed spaceship. To prevent a panic the president orders them to “Get rid of it”, but we know that the engine has already been removed before that happens. Flash forward to today… actually the eighties but it was today when the movie was made. We meet Mike the car guy who is warned by his science teacher Bob that he needs a project to pass the class and get his diploma. He ends up heading out to an airplane graveyard with a girl named Ellie. She has a crush on him, so this is their first date. Weird but it does follow eighties movie logic so cool, I guess.

Mike finds a glowing machine buried in an old bomb shelter. This is of course the engine from the spaceship and once they add a bit of power the thing starts opening up time warps. One of these sucks up Bob the science teacher. The rest of the movie consists of them trying to stop the device from getting out of control, running from the cops that are a bit peeved at them blowing up an electrical tower in their first attempt to save the day, and Fisher Stevens making wisecracks.

I can officially say that this is still a great movie. The story is tight and gets to the good stuff right away. The characters find the gizmo and almost immediately weird things start happening. There is speeding, explosions, hijinks, and other must have stuff in here. But the fun really begins when the guys have to brave the high school to shut the engine off and save Ellie who was knocked out when it reactivated by a jealous nerd. This brings us to the best part of My Science Project when they encounter all the time warps filling the hallways. We get to see them deal with a Neanderthal, a gladiator, mutants from the future, Viet Cong, and a T-Rex. Such a cool movie.

I miss Dennis Hopper...
The characters are fun, well written, and acted perfectly by the excellent cast. The highlight of this has to be Dennis Hopper as Bob the science teacher. He isn’t in a lot of the movie but plays a hippy that didn’t want the sixties to end and is still antiwar and protesting things. He shows up at the very end of the movie having spent his trip thru the time warp revisiting the past and future. This is Hopper at his most Hopper and it fun to watch. Fisher Stevens is also quite good and has the best lines in the movie, one of which actually is a crack about a car that comes to life and of course John Stockwell, who plays Mike, had just appeared in Christine a couple of years earlier. Yeah it is that kind of humor!

My Science Project is one of those rare cases where the story holds up. This could be a movie that feels very dated and maybe some of the special effects work is. But for the most part this is still a fun romp with cool characters. I recommend this blast from the past.


© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer


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