THE MANHATTAN PROJECT [1986] movie review

December 31, 2011 · Print This Article

As I start to prepare to go see SUPER 8 tomorrow night, I thought tonight I would prepare by watching some real 80s sci-fi, hence THE MANHATTAN PROJECT. I had little real knowledge about the movie beforehand, just mostly things evidently I made up in my mind. I knew it was about a kid and a nuclear bomb and somehow he got ahold of it, perhaps. I did not know there would be such a strong political statement defining the final third of the movie.

The first two-thirds of the movie were really entertaining in the 1980s style of high school adventure, antics, comedy. The final third brought the movie to a screeching halt and could have been edited, a lot.


The two teen leads are well cast, and to save you the trouble of trying to figure out who the actress playing Jenny is for the first 30 minutes of the movie, as I did, she grows up to be the redhead in Sex and the City. Glad that came to me so I could then move on! She plays the ideal high school girlfriend for a science geek, or really any teenage boy.


The two teens come up with an ingenious plan to steal some plutonium from a secret lab, which is of course entirely preposterous, but very enjoyable to watch take place. Good, innocent film making, like you cannot get today.


The home made nuclear bomb is actually intended to be a science fair project! So they are off to New York and meet their competitors, who in their brief screen time were excellent. I was sad to leave them behind so quickly.


Then the final act and lots of stern lectures and military men looking impatient and threatening. The viewer also loses sight of what the goal of the characters is at this point as well. What is the movie doing? Now it wants to make a formal anti-nuclear stance minus the manic craziness of the previous 90 minutes? Plus Jenny is off screen for most of this time further greatly reducing my interest in what was happening on screen.


Still, THE MANHATTAN PROJECT is a satisfying enough return to 80s nostalgia.


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