There once was a time when Disney only made “G” rated films.
I suppose that might be hard to believe for those too young to remember all those low-budget Disney family films (with Kurt Russell as a teenager!) but it was a huge shock when they released their first PG film, The Black Hole. They didn’t even put the Disney name on it!
Neither it nor Tron, their second attempt at a big-budget non-“G” rated movie, did as much business as they’d hoped and a lot of people blamed the “PG” ratings. So they spun off a new company, Touchstone, to handle their non-G films. My Science Project was the sixth Touchstone film and it really doesn’t feel anything like a Disney film.
They probably had their eyes on SF Comedies like Weird Science, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Back to the Future — and on the endless stream of Eighties teen comedies like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. A mechanically gifted teenager, desperate to get a good grade on the science project he needs to graduate, tries to restore the mysterious device he finds in a military scrap yard. Unfortunately, he doesn’t realize that it is a flying saucer engine and when it starts up it causes all sorts of chaos.
There isn’t a lot more to it than that,
But what there is does manage to be a lot of fun, particularly the climax where the hero and his friends have to fight their way through the past, present and future all snarled up in the local high school, complete with ape men, Viet Cong and even a rampaging T-Rex (provided by Doug Beswick and Rick Baker).
Oh, well. It’s absurd and silly, the hero’s comic relief side kick is annoying (although not too annoying) and we all know that the swirling glowing clouds of color are on loan from Ghostbusters and the climax of Raiders of the Lost Ark. We know that.
But it is still fun. And that’s what counts in a movie like this. Sure, most of those other films are better than this one, but then, what are you going to watch when you’ve seen all of them?
And you have to give them credit. For once someone actually kills the T-Rex. It takes a grenade launcher to do it, but that’s still better than Steven Spielberg’s bullet proof dinosaurs in the second Jurassic Park film.
So, flying saucers, mutants, rayguns, Dennis Hopper, and a sweet, bright red, supercharged ’68 GTO: how can you go wrong? If don’t expect too much you should have a lot of fun.
Just don’t plug in that thing with the big glowing ball, Okay?
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