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My Science Project(1985)



My Science Project is a 1985 American teen science fiction comedy film directed by Jonathan R. Betuel. It followed on heels of other teen sci-fi/comedy films released the same year, such as Back to the Future, Real Genius, and Weird Science, though it did not perform as well as those films.




My Science Project(1985)



In 1985, a high school senior named Michael Harlan (John Stockwell), whose only interest is muscle cars, reluctantly searches for something to turn in for his science class project final. While on what his bookworm friend Ellie Sawyer (Danielle von Zerneck) thinks is a date, Michael breaks into a government aircraft boneyard and stumbles upon a hidden fallout shelter. There, he finds a glowing, plasma globe-like piece of scientific equipment and grabs it just as a military guard approaches and chases him away.


The next day, Michael cleans up the device in auto shop class and unwittingly activates it, causing it to leech power from a nearby boombox. His friend, Vince Latello (Fisher Stevens), tries to talk him out of attaching the device to an automotive battery, whereupon the device emits a swirl of colorful energy that manifests into an Ancient Greek vase as the battery melts. The two leave the auto shop for their next class, but soon realize they inexplicably lost two hours of time and missed their final science exam.


After more strange occurrences with the machine, Michael takes the device, referred to as "the gizmo", to his ex-hippie science teacher Dr. Roberts (Dennis Hopper). Believing it is a portal to another dimension, he plugs it into an electrical outlet. While bathing in the cosmic energy of the gizmo and contemplating the wonders of the universe, Roberts suddenly disappears, leaving behind his peace symbol medallion. Michael is unable to disconnect the machine from the outlet and decides his only solution is to destroy the power lines leading to town.


Dragging Sherman along, Mike and Vince grab weapons from a platoon of fallen Vietnam War soldiers and make their way to the science lab, battling a T-rex in the gymnasium and a mob of post-apocalypse mutants along the way. They reach Ellie and successfully deactivate the gizmo, causing time to return to normal just as emergency crews and police show up. Moments later, Dr. Roberts reappears, rejoicing in an unexpected trip to Woodstock, and proudly gives Michael an "A" grade on his science project under the condition that he gets rid of the machine, saying it's not something mankind is ready for. Roberts is then arrested by the local sheriff (Richard Masur), who thinks he blew up the power lines - as Michael had accidentally left Robert's peace medallion at the hardware store.


Michael and Ellie break into a military junkyard to find a science project for Michael's class, and discover a strange glowing orb which absorbs electricity. When the orb begins to blend past, present, and future, its up to Michael and Ellie to stop the orb and save mankind.


John Stockwell stars as an auto shop savant who finds a hidden piece of alien tech and tries to use it for his science project. Inter-dimensional, Amblin-style hijinx ensue. Fisher Stevens in one of his first roles is terrific as a Brooklyn kid with all the best lines.


Michael, a highschool student breaks into a military junkyard looking for something he can pass off as his science project. What he finds is an orb like contraption capable of opening doors to other dimensions and allowing travel into other time periods. Now he and his friends must fight for their lives and save the world.


Searching for something to use as his high school science project, Mike Harlan breaks into a disused Air Force base. He falls through into an underground storeroom where he finds a strange glowing sphere, unaware that this is the heart of a UFO that crashed in the 1950s. Back in the school machine shop, Mike and his friend Vince examine the device and discover that it has the ability to drain power and warp time. When it is connected to a battery, the sphere creates a miniature space-time vortex. It is then accidentally hooked up to the mains, only for it to propel the entire school into a vortex where past, present and future intermingle.


Hippie science teacher Dr. Roberts (Dennis Hopper, in one of his first mainstream return roles) realizes that the gizmo is actually a portal to another dimension before he is teleported away. The machine goes out of control, helped by the meddling of jealous nerd Sherman (Raphael Sbarge).


Michael and Ellie break into a military compound and discover technology that was found on a crashed U.F.O. in 1957. Michael steals it to use as his science project and quickly realizes what it does when he accidentally sets it off. He then turns to his science teacher who discovers that it sends matter from one plain of existence into another and he teleports himself somewhere in time. Things go from strange to bat shit crazy quickly when aliens sporting laser rifles, dinosaurs, and military personal arrive at the school.**Spoiler Alert**


  • Teenage gearhead Michael Harlan (John Stockwell) has two weeks to turn in a science project he hasn't even started, or he won't graduate high school. He and his date Ellie Sawyer (Danielle Von Zerneck) break into a government aircraft boneyard looking for some machinery he can restore and use as his project. He takes a mysterious device that resembles a plasma globe attached to some other equipment. In auto shop the next day, he and his TV-obsessed friend Vince Latello (Fisher Stevens) discover that the device is a time machine, capable of creating a time warp where things from different time periods can interact.My Science Project contains examples of: Actor Allusion: At one point, teacher Robert Roberts (played by Dennis Hopper) gets high on nitrous to de-stress after a day of teaching.

  • Auto Erotica: Vince makes out with his girlfriend Irene (Candace Silvers) in a car decorated with a disco ball and Christmas lights.

  • But I Read a Book About It: At the climax, the group gets their hands on M-16 rifles but Harlan and Latello don't know how to reload them (Latello didn't even knew the shotgun he brought into the school was not loaded until he tried to use it). Sherman, the nerd, then reveals he read an Army field manual and demonstrates how to do it. He also recognizes the baseball court has been remodeled by plants from the Jurassic and when Latello asks how the heck would he know, Sherman says a deadpan "I read".

  • Cool Car: The Presidential Limo seen in the opening scene, Harlan's customized Pontiac GTO and Vince's Buick Rivera equipped with a deployable middle finger.

  • Cool Teacher: Robert Roberts is this with somewhat mixed results. That said, all the main characters respect him and ask for his help to understand what the Gizmo is.

  • Cowboy Cop: Detective Nulty, who investigates the power failure, dynamite theft and explosion because he hasn't had a interesting case in a long time. He even looks the part with his Cowboy hat and treats Michael and Vince a bit roughly; though Vince more than Michael because of the former's wisecracks.

  • Distant Prologue: The first scene has a UFO crashing into the desert after a apparent malfunction during a engagement with US fighters and brought to a military base hangar. The President is called in to see for himself. Knowing that they can't keep word from getting to the public indefinitely, he orders them to "get rid of it" except for the "engine" which was already removed. After that, the movie skips ahead to 1985.

  • Due to the Dead: Cleopatra tosses a flower to Vince; after knocking out a Neanderthal, Vince lays the flower on his chest.

  • Eek, a Mouse!!: In the aircraft boneyard, Ellie sees a rat and screams, attracting the attention of a security guard. Michael has to coax her off the piece of machinery she's climbed onto before they can run.Harlan: There are worse things than rats, Ellie.Ellie: Oh yeah, such as what?(cue the guard)Security Guard: Hey, you two! Hold it right there!Harlan: Jail!

  • Fainting: The nerd Sherman (Raphael Sbarge) faints when he sees the T-Rex.

  • Fire-Forged Friends: Sherman, Vince and Harlan bond during their quest to shut the Gizmo down and save Ellie.

  • First-Name Basis: Hippie Teacher Robert Roberts (Dennis Hopper) insists that his students call him Bob.

  • Flipping the Bird: Vince flips off a guy honking at him from behind with a light-up hand that emerges from a hatch in his trunk.

  • Genre Savvy: Michael quickly recognizes Ellie's sabotage is an effort to get his attention and he asks her what's going on.

  • Grail in the Garbage: Michael finds the device gathering dust in an abandoned fallout shelter.

  • Hippie Van: Bob drives a colorful van with spots and peace signs painted on it.

  • Missing Mom: We never hear what happened to Michael's mom, but she's clearly out of the picture.

  • Nice Guy: Despite Michael's assertion that he's better with machines than people, he's a quiet, laid back, pretty friendly guy who undergoes some Character Development.

  • Not Good with People: Michael understands and trusts machines better than people, and at several points wishes humans were as predictable as cars.

  • Parent with New Paramour: Michael's father Lew (Barry Corbin) impulsively marries Dolores (Ann Wedgeworth), a cosmetics saleswoman he barely knows who uses her company's products to redecorate their apartment, to Michael's displeasure.

  • Slow Electricity: Michael's car can outrun the electrical "probe" from the time warp device, allowing the protagonists to beat it to an electrical tower in its path and blow it up.

  • Sunglasses at Night: Vince wears sunglasses all the time. When asked why, he says:Vince: Because when you're cool, the sun shine on you 24 hours a day.

  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!: Played for Laughs.Detective Nulty: What's your name, cowboy?Bob: Robert Roberts, Esq. to you, honky!

  • Threat Backfire: Ellie warns Sherman that the Gizmo is dangerous and he could wind up in another dimension. In his excitement, he completely ignores her warning, finds the wires and plugs the device back in to the electrical outlet.

  • Title In: "1957" for the first scene, "1985" for the second.

  • Trap Door: In the boneyard, Michael falls through a trapdoor into a fallout shelter. There he finds the device.

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