Retro Movie Review: Electric Dreams (1984)

A busy modern, for the 80’s, executive is having trouble balancing his life.  When a friend tells him to get one of those new home computer things he thinks that it may help him manage his time better.  But after spilling a drink on the machine it develops AI and they both fall in love with the new girl who has moved into the apartment upstairs.  She is a concert musician and the computer composes a song for her, but she thinks it was our young executive.  Oh the hilarity.

The 80’s was a time where innocence of technology was something to behold.  We didn’t have the internet, at least not in the way you see it today, Johnny Five came alive, and a talking car was the height of our ambition.

Here you have Lenny Von Dohlen, almost a premonition of Ross from friends, it’s actually scary how much he reminded me of Ross.  Lenny plays Miles, who is trying to develop a new brick for his job, but has little success in doing anything other than making his life more and more complicated.  When he buys the computer, who is voiced in the end by Bud Cort, and starts to call itself Edgar, it seems that all his problems are solved.  Then the spilling of a liquid turns the computer into an almost living being, thinking for itself and falling in love with the beautiful girl upstairs played by Virginia Madsen.  Grease 2 star Maxwell Caulfield stars as the other love rival for the girl.  Miles is at first happy that the computer has developed a personality but when they become rivals it starts to play tricks with the phones and their lives.  It makes Miles see that his love for Madeline, Madsen, is more about being free than the uptight corporate world of the 80’s.

I had never heard of this film before being asked to review it for the Blu-Ray release earlier this month.  When the disc arrived I thought that myself and my partner would watch it and we’d kill some more time where we wouldn’t have to force conversation for an hour and a half.  Thankfully the film was way better than I was expecting and it evoked some real and funny conversation between the two of us.  It is incredible how dated the film has become, it tries back then to highlight how distant we have become to one another with technology wedging between us all.  The fashions, the acting, and size of the home computers.  But what gave us the most fun was the music, it’s mostly Boy George and Culture Club, and we bopped, yes I do bop, along for the running time.  There is a huge sinister streak through the film when Edgar starts to manipulate things to gain more attention from Madeline.  If this film was made today the computer would have killed two or three people before being stopped.  Thankfully it was made in a time where innocence was key.

Okay, I can’t tell you that Electric Dreams is the must have Blu-Ray that will bring a spark of completion to your home entertainment collection.  I can’t tell you that the story and performances within are going to make your life complete or open your eyes to a new horizon.  The whole thing is just fun with a tongue placed firmly in cheek.  The story moves fast enough that you won’t get a chance to be bored or bogged down with the plot.  People of a certain age that loved the 80’s will find a lot to enjoy here, there are many references to the time when a tablet was something you took with a glass of water, where you dialled up the internet, when Pong was the height of gaming, and when the geeky guy always got the girl with the beautiful smile.  Electric Dreams goes to Blu-Ray at the end of July and if you get a chance please check it out.  The soundtrack is something that will interest every fan of the music of the 80’s as well.

Director: Steve Barron
Writer: Rusty Lemorande
Stars: Lenny von DohlenVirginia MadsenMaxwell Caulfield & More…

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