This was a favorite of mine from my childhood, but it had been a long time since I'd seen it. From what I remembered of it, it seemed that it was a fairly well made film, and that it would manage to hold up over 20 years later. And it did, surprisingly well in fact, even much of the special effects, because they didn't try to get too fancy with them, sticking to the basics; including a cool stop-motion dinosaur. (See below) None of the 80's fashions or dialogue is too obnoxious, nothing so distracting that it'll pull you out of the film. I think this film would still work for a kids. It's a fun, whimsical ride.
Mike Harlan is a decent kid, a bit obsessed with cars, in fact it's the only thing he cares about, but he has a good heart. When his science teacher, played by Dennis Hopper in full-on psychedelic mode, asks him to turn in anything for his science project so he can graduate, Mike wants to do it right and go big. So he breaks into the military junkyard that's outside of town, he kills two birds with one stone, by inviting along the nerdy, but cute Ellie, who sort of blackmailed him into a date. While sneaking around the dilapidated war planes, he accidentally falls into a bunker, where he comes across some crazy looking machine; that is originally from a spacecraft from Area 51, but he doesn't know that. On the drive home, we see a sneak peak of the machine's powers, when it drains the battery from Mike's precious car.
It came out in 1985, the same year as another teenager travels through time to chaotic and comic results film, Back to the Future, that completely blew up the box office, and made My Science Project, an afterthought. Which is unfortunate, it is a well made, light hearted romp, with some funny performances; Fisher Stevens gets in some great one-liners as the Brooklyn transplant Vince. John Stockwell is fairly bland in the lead role of Mike, he doesn't offer up much, but doesn't take anything off the plate either. I think that most that have seen this film, enjoy it; but I don't think it's that widely known either, it deserves to be remembered. - Grade: B
While showing it to his buddy Vince, played by the very funny Fisher Stevens, before class, they plug it into the wall and unknowingly jump a few hours into the future. When they show it to their science teacher, even stranger things happen, like Dennis Hopper getting sucked inside to another time. After that, they decide to leave it alone, but when it gets left on by the geeky Sherman, who's jealous of Mike and Ellie's new relationship, all hell breaks loose. And it's up to Mike, Vince and Sherman to travel through all of Earth's history contained within their high school, to save Ellie who's trapped inside. They battle through everything from dinosaurs to futuristic mutants wielding laser guns.