I’ve said before, that living in the UK, we missed some movies from the 80s, My Science Project being one of them.
I’ve honestly never heard of this before until it popped up on a random list on the IMDb. The story is:
A high school student and his friend find a strange, orb-like piece of equipment to use as a science project, but must stop it when it begins to threaten mankind.
I’m up for that, it sounds like fun. My Science Project stars John Stockwell, Danielle von Zerneck, Fisher Stevens, Richard Masur, and Dennis Hopper. It was written and directed by Jonathan R. Betuel, known for writing The Last Starfighter.
The Main Story
There are spoilers, so be warned. The movie opens in 1957 with an alien ship being chased and ends up crashing and being taken to a military base. President Dwight D. Eisenhower enters and simply says:
“Get rid of it!”
Yes, alien technology from another world, just get rid of it. From the outset, this made no sense. However, the ship is dismantled and hidden in a scrapyard in the middle of nowhere.
We then jump to 1985 and a kid is about to flunk out of college unless he can make a great science project. Hopper plays his teacher, who’s pretty cool and “down with the kids” and doesn’t mind a shot of oxygen to get through the day.
The kid, Michael, played by Stockwell, and his friend, Vince, played by Stevens, have to get something sorted, or Michael will fail the class and never graduate. Michael ends up arranging a date with one of the “nerd” girls, Ellie, played by Zerneck.
Michael has an idea to break into the secret military scarp yard and Michael finds a piece of the alien tech, which he then steals.
The next day, Michael and Vince clean up the device and manage to turn it on. Strange lights come out of the device and “somehow” a vase from ancient Greece appears. When they finally turn the machine off, they find that two hours have flashed by and they missed the final exam.
They take the device to Bob, the cool teacher, played by Hopper, and he wants to plug it into the mains. He gets carried away, literally, by the strange lights and disappears. The machine keeps drawing power from the mains, so the only solution, blow up the power lines down the road.
Michael, Vince, and Ellie get some dynamite, coz it seems that easy in the US. No, Michael’s father owns a hardware store and they steal the dynamite and head down the road, trying to outrun the power going down the power lines.
There are consequences to their actions and Michael is arrested, due to the disappearance of Bob, their teacher. Michael tells Ellie to get the machine, hoping he can show the police what happened. Ellie heads to the school and one of the other “nerd” kids has turned it back on again.
The last act involves a vast hole opened in the space-time continuum, so there are dinosaurs and creatures from the future with laser guns. It’s OK though, since Michael, Vince, and the nerd kid, all have machine guns by now.
They eventually turn the device off, Bob comes back from his time traveling, which was mostly to Woodstock and Michael and Ellie live happily ever after.
Impression of My Science Project
This was such a weird movie. The first act is all very much 80s American High School, only to have the third act boarding on Predator. I imagine the expression “Go big or go home” was used a lot since if you’re going to make a movie about an alien device, you might as well throw some time travel and dinosaurs in there as well.
I loved Dennis Hopper in this. I get the impression that he didn’t read the script all the way through and thought it said he would be going to Woodstock. The fact that he is only in the movie for about 10 minutes and just talks about Woodstock must have pissed him off.
The rest of the cast is good. I love Fisher Stevens and will always remember him as Apu in Short Circuit.
This was a bad movie, but it was good fun. When I think of some 80s kids’ movies, like The Goonies, Flight of the Navigator, Back to the Future, etc, they are based in a reality, where they “could have happened to me”. I mean, know they are sci-fi/fantasy movies, but they could have.
My Science Project could never have happened to anyone, ever. It’s far too over the top and just very silly. I say that, but did I have a good time watching it? Yes, it was stupidly good fun.
I’d give it another go if it was on again, but, as I said, in the UK, it’s the first time I’ve heard of it, so I can’t imagine it’ll be on anything any time soon.
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