My Science Project

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
My Science Project Movie Poster Image
'80s romp filled with scary alien powers and innuendo.
  • PG
  • 1985
  • 94 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Stay away from alien power sources. Bringing the past into the future can be dangerous. Don't leave important assignments to the last minute.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Guys are clueless about women and ask, "Why can't women be more like cars?" A teen breaks into a military base. Another teen pays some thugs to mess up his rival's car. Kids drive 120 miles per hour to beat alien forces to a power source. They crash into a road sign, but no one is injured. A teen steals a police patrol car to save a friend in trouble. Michael learns that friends are more important than cars.

Violence

Teenagers blow up a town's power station to prevent alien powers from taking over. Teens fight a Neanderthal man, a dinosaur, Roman warriors, Vietcong with machine guns, and aliens with guns from the future.

Sex

Someone mentions "free love." A guy and a girl make out in his car; both are clothed. A guy tells his girlfriend, "I'm not in the mood no more." A teenage boy and girl kiss. A teen says, "Danger makes great sex."

Language

"S--t," "ass," "pigs" (for police), "bimbo," "broad" (for a woman), "fag," "faggot," "gonad," "butt plug," "zip it up," "you're pullin' my zucchini," "maggots," "snot," "wimp virgin," "honky," "god-funking-zilla."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cigar smoking. Teenagers drink beer. Adults drink wine. A teacher who pines for his heyday in the 1960s inhales some gas. Someone mentions smoking banana peels.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that My Science Project is a 1985 fantasy that invokes the spirit of the 1984 hit Ghostbusters, this time focusing on the release of uncontrollable alien energies rather than evil paranormal ones. There are plenty of scary effects and violence;  younger kids may find it too intense. Though it's a comedy, you can expect to see shootings, a stabbing, a vicious dinosaur, breaking and entering, vandalism, cigar smoking, and beer drinking. There are a few sexual references. Expect to hear such words as "s--t," "ass," and "faggot." The heart of the movie is about learning through surviving disaster that friendship is important.

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What's the story?

Michael (John Stockwell) is a gifted car mechanic but not much of a student. He is one science project away from high school graduation, but he still hasn't figured out what that project will be. At the last minute, he and his friend Ellie (Danielle von Zerneck) break into an old Air Force base looking for anything he can dust off and hand in as a project to his ex-hippie teacher (Dennis Hopper). Michael and friend Vince (Fisher Stevens) unearth an alien engine that had been discovered by the military back in the 1950s. Turning it on opens a door to a dangerous time-space warp, threatening life on earth as we know it. Militant beings from the distant past, including a T. rex, and from the looming future all come to do battle with Michael and his friends, using swords, machine guns, and teeth. Many scary special effects mimic the images of those roiling paranormal energies enveloping Manhattan in Ghostbusters.

Is it any good?

The writing is simplistic and juvenile, and kids may struggle with its dated look, but there are still a few entertaining moments here. Hopper is over the top as a teacher who longs to get high and to protest something, the way he did back in the '60s. Stockwell at 24 and Stevens at 22 both do their best to play high school seniors, but they seem a bit mature for the irresponsible hijinks at the heart of the story. It's a goofy film, but it could be fun for an '80s-themed family movie night, assuming kids are able to handle the potentially scary moments.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what this movie wants viewers to think about its depiction of a supposed 1950s alien-spaceship discovery. Do you think the government has had actual encounters with aliens?

  • Do you think the filmmakers want you to believe that time travel is possible?

  • Since the 1960s were a time of mass protest against war and racism, why might some movies portray that era and the people who lived then as silly? What message does that send about people who try to make change in the world?

  • This movie was made in 1985. Does it seem dated, or does it still work for modern audiences?

Movie details

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