Soundtrack Saturday: “Weird Science”

Written by Soundtrack Saturday

Robert Downey Jr. received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor this week for his role in Tropic Thunder. I haven’t seen it yet (though it is next in my Netflix queue), but I’m thrilled that RDJ has had such a great year, between his nomination and his fantastic performance in Iron Man. I’m also eagerly anticipating the April release of The Soloist, which, sadly, suffered the dreaded “release date push-back” — it was originally slated for  November. In Downey’s honor I decided to write about one of his earliest films, John Hughes’s classic ’80s comedy Weird Science (1985).

I posted about another RDJ flick a few weeks ago, one in which he played a more serious role (though most people I know who’ve seen Less Than Zero don’t take anything about it seriously). Downey has a relatively small part  in Weird Science, which stars Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith as bored 15-year-old geeks Gary and Wyatt. Left alone at Wyatt’s house for a week while his parents are out of town, with only the occasional run-in with Wyatt’s jerk older brother Chet (Bill Paxton) to worry about, the pair decide to create a woman using Wyatt’s computer and a doll — and it works.

Their creation, Lisa (Kelly LeBrock), turns them from nerdy to cool and makes them the envy of two guys who used to bully them, Max and Ian (Robert Rusler and Downey). Wyatt and Gary try to re-create their woman-making success for the bullies during a party at Wyatt’s house, but they fail, with hilarious consequences. In the end Lisa helps them see that people will like them for who they are, not what they can give them. Isn’t that sweet? (Three months after Weird Science was released, Hall and Downey became cast members on Saturday Night Live. Hall was 17, making him the youngest cast member in the history of the show, and Downey was 20.)

The movie’s soundtrack is a nice mix of rock, pop, and new wave, with a smattering of covers, including Van Halen’s take on Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman” and Cheyne’s faithful but pointless version of Prince’s “Private Joy.” And, of course, there’s the hit title track by Oingo Boingo (I’ve included both the edited version and the dance remix here for your enjoyment). As usual, the soundtrack album is out of print. But I do believe I managed to track down everything, including songs that weren’t on the official release, so this is pretty complete. Some of the tracks below are vinyl rips, therefore the sound quality is so-so. But better than nothing, right?

Oingo Boingo – Weird Science
Kim Wilde – Turn It On
Wall of Voodoo – Deep in the Jungle
Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells
OMD – Tesla Girls
Cheyne – Private Joy
Ratt – Wanted Man
Los Lobos – Don’t Worry Baby
Taxxi – Forever
Lords of the New Church – Method to My Madness
Killing Joke – Eighties
Wild Man From Wonga – Why Don’t Pretty Girls Look at Me
Del Fuegos – Nervous and Shakey
Max Carl – The Circle
General Public – Tenderness
The Broken Homes – Do Not Disturb (Knock Knock)
Van Halen – (Oh) Pretty Woman
Oingo Boingo – Weird Science [Dance Mix]