Thursday, April 05, 2007

Remembering The Manhattan Project

I was recently thinking about some of the movies I saw in the mid-1980's that they used to show on TV all the time that they don't really show anymore and the one title that I kept thinking about was 1986's The Manhattan Project, a stylish, if not implausible, cautionary tale about nuclear weaponry. And if you've read my other "remembering" posts, you know this isn't a four star movie, but it is still something worth seeking out. I will say that it is likely better than many of the other movies I have recommended however (Roger Ebert would agree)

The movie stars Chris Collet(whose film career was blink-and-you'll-miss-it short), John Lithgow, a young Cynthia Nixon and various other people who'd you'd recognize upon seeing them. Lithgow plays a nuclear scientist, Dr. John Mathewson, who developed a way to produce plutonium of extreme purity, and because of this work, the US Government builds a lab in suburban Ithaca, New York under the front of a medical research company called Metatomics. Mathewson meets a real estate agent, and in trying to impress both her and her brilliant son, Paul(Chris Collet), who realizes that the lab is not what it seems... especially when he discovers a series of items which probability determines shouldn't be there.

Because of the nature of his personality, this blatant dishonesty really bothers Paul. So he decides, along with the help from his girlfriend Jenny Anderman (Cynthia Nixon) to expose the lab's activities by stealing some nuclear material from the lab on a rainy night and then building a working atomic device for a Science Fair to ensure that the story gets both the attention and dissemination he believes it deserves. Little does he know that the materials he used to build the bomb are so potent that it poses an eminent threat to a far greater area than any one town or city. I am going to leave you hanging on what happens next, as I would be a terrible host if I wrecked the whole thing for you.

To me(and truth be told, to a lot of critics as well), The Manhattan Project serves as almost a companion piece to John Badham's WarGames, as both stories deal with teenagers doing mischievous things involving nuclear weapons that may have devastating consequences. Of course, one movie become the iconic hacker movie and the other slinked off to obscurity, but they are both worth seeing, especially if you can manage to get them both for a nice 1980's double bill.

4 comments:

D. Prince said...

I've seen WarGames tons of times but I have never seen The Manhattan Project.

You're right about it being on tv lots and now not ever.

MC said...

I think it is time for it to shine though.

DutchBitch said...

I think Chris Collet was the one to follow in the finger-steps of the boy with his finger in the dyke when the latter retired...

MC said...

I am sure Chris Collet has had his fingers in a few dykes over the years.