I have always had a soft spot for Bill Paxton. Not because he had minor supporting roles in The
Terminator or Aliens, nor is it because he directed the vastly underrated
and criminally underseen Frailty and neither is it because he is having somewhat of a
career revival in the form of HBO’s Big Love. Even with all of those wonderful attributes
withstanding, the reason why I adore Paxton is because of his portrayal of Chet
Donnelly in Weird Science.
Simply put, Chet is the biggest ass of a big brother put to
celluloid. And even though my own sibling
is nowhere near Chet’s level of atrocity, there are moments where I get the
feeling that they are one in the same. And
that is why Chet is such a memorable character, because anyone with siblings
can relate to his cruel and asinine behavior.
A hardened military trained older brother is the stuff of
nightmares, no doubt. What Paxton does,
however, is play him as a buffoon on a war path (what war he is fighting is
anybody’s guess). The time Chet spends
on screen isn’t very long, but his scenes are the most memorable of the film. I mean, who else could say “You two donkey
dicks couldn’t get laid in a morgue” or “Do you realize it’s snowing in my
room, goddamnit” and make it sound cool
in that geeky sort of way? Come to think
of it, that’s another reason why Chet works so well; he’s a geek stuck inside the
body of a beefcake.
What’s great is that Paxton was (and still is) a seasoned and
gifted actor, so much so that he was in on the joke the entire time. Even though half the stuff that spewed out of
Chet’s mouth was baloney, there was still that hint of menace residing behind
those words, which made his role as the bullying alpha male brother that much
more interesting to watch. The guy was
wound so tight, he could have snapped at any minute, while that hilarious crew
cut didn’t do him any favors. These are
all the little things that Paxton used to his advantage to further develop his
While Weird Science is light years from being a cinematic
masterpiece, like all John Hughes movies, it ages gracefully because of the intelligence
and love put into the creation of these characters that inhabit the world of his
films. Chet Donnelly is a prime
example. Even with such a small amount
of time on screen, Chet became an audience favorite because of his unabashed
lunacy, ignorance and disgusting swagger.
What’s more, he seemed to be more of a gentleman after he was turned
into Jabba the Hutt’s bastard child.
Think about that for a while.