We’ve all been there before, right? Staring down the deadline for an assignment that we have not adequately prepared for. What does one do in such a situation? Well, if you are a high school student and your science teacher is hippy Dennis Hopper, you break into a government facility and steal a piece of equipment you are clueless about. Then you poke at it mindlessly and present it as My Science Project.
My Science Project stars John Stockwell as Michael Harlan, our protagonist. Michael is a simple man, really. He loves cars. He even cares more about his car than his girlfriend. He also doesn’t much care for school or science class. He’s not particularly interested in doing his science project. The only reason he can be bothered to put any effort into his project is when he realizes he will fail the class and not graduate if his project isn’t a success. Looking down the inevitability of not graduating and with only 24 hours to change the course of his future, Michael must search for an answer. Like any good high school student, his brilliant solution comes in the form of breaking and entering. Taking the class bookworm on a date to an abandoned military installation, he breaks in and finds what looks much like a plasma globe. Despite knowing nothing about it, he decides it will make a fine science project and steals it.
While he is mostly incompetent in the world of science, he and his friend manage to activate it the next day in the shop and observe it draining power from the boom box. Foolishly thinking an item he is clueless about should be hooked up to more power, he haphazardly connects the device to a car battery. After the device absorbs the battery’s power, Michael and his dopey car buddy find a vase from Ancient Egypt.
As the friends take the device to their science teacher, they discover that it manipulates time. Hooking it up to a power outlet where it is supplied with all the power it can use, all chaos breaks lose. Our heroes find themselves face to face with threats from both past and present and must fight for their lives and stop the device from wreaking more havoc.
All in all, My Science Project is a fun little comedic science fiction romp. It isn’t high art cinema; nor would you expect it to be, as it is written and directed by the same guy who brought us The Last Starfighter. It does, however, offer some fun and imaginative situations for our leads to find themselves in. Time travel and merging of timelines can be a blast to explore within the setting of a comedic sci-fi adventure when handled well. This especially holds true when the characters are rank amateurs and not actually intelligently or even intentionally attempting to explore time.
John Stockwell portrays the car enthusiast pretty well, even if he does just come off as a wooden dope from time to time. The lackey played by Fisher Stevens is honestly more annoying than endearing, and the class geek feels entirely unnecessary. The love interest is fine and doesn’t detract from the film at all, and helps balance out our two leading morons. All in all, the characters don’t truly elevate the movie, nor do they bring it down.
The biggest problem with the movie overall is the pacing. The first two thirds of the movie before the characters unleash temporal chaos on their school is very slow. We spend a great deal of time focused on even getting to the moment of finding the device, and then another large portion of the movie slowly poking aimlessly at the device. It isn’t until about halfway into the movie that we see some interesting consequences stemming from playing with powers unknown.
The real payoff of the movie takes even a little more time to develop. This is approximately the last third of the movie when we actually get to experience the chaos caused by the device bringing multiple times together. I believe the movie would have been significantly better if there was less build up and more time exploring the chaos caused by the device. This was the most interesting part of the movie and could have benefited from more time. As it is, it is the best, albeit too small part of a pretty decent, but not very good movie. It is an enjoyable watch, but there are much better ways to spend 90 minutes of your life. Some will find it to be worth repeated viewings over time, but many will be satisfied with just the one watch. Either way, if you enjoy lighthearted sci-fi, then you should at least give My Science Project a rental or pick it up cheap for a one-time watch.
The video is decent on this release of My Science Project. The special effects aren’t cutting edge, but look decent in high def. The colors on the plasma orb look pretty solid for a movie of this age and funding. The fog looks clean and not too muddy. The black levels aren’t completely satisfying. Most color tones look fair to good. Not a great transfer, but nothing to be disappointed in either especially given the age and prestige of the title we are starting with.
Video Quality: 3/5
Once again, Mill Creek disappoints with only including a Dolby 2.0 audio track. I get that this is a bargain release, but it is still an unfortunate thing. That said, it is an ok track, but not good. The dialog is generally pretty clear and understandable. However, the special effect sounds are not very lively. They hit a little shallow and feel rather dull.
PACKAGING & SPECIAL FEATURES
None, nada, zilch. Nothing to see here. You get a static menu with one option to play the movie. That is all you get.
Packaging & Special Features: 0.5/5
Fans of My Science Project will surely be pleased with the transfer, but disappointed in a poor showing on audio and special features. If you have never seen it, I think it is worth a watch for sure. I can’t wholly recommend adding it to your collection despite the bargain pricing on it. I think it is a fun way to spend an hour and a half, but it shows plenty of weaknesses. It really needs some better pacing, but the last third is where the fun really comes in. That last third is worth the viewing alone, but the one time will likely be enough for many people. I think there are far more satisfying movies to enjoy time travel, from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure to Back to the Future (it is, however, still better than Time Chasers). I just can’t see a ton of replay value in this movie or release.
Final Score: 2.5/5