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Reviews & Ratings for
The Manhattan Project More at IMDbPro »

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55 out of 80 people found the following review useful:

Those darn warmongering govies....

Author: Mentat327
20 September 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

So let me get this straight. This teenager wants to expose this secret government laboratory... by building an atomic bomb with material he steals from the facility and taking it to a science fair. And he wants to expose this facility because... they didn't tell anyone they were a secret plutonium facility and thereby make themselves a target for espionage and theft?

So, as I said, his solution to the "warmongering" military authorities building atomic bombs is to build one himself. (And they're warmongering because they want to build atomic bombs because hostile countries with a doctrine of overthrowing countries to spread their political beliefs would do the same to the US if they could because they also have atomic bombs, right?) Then when the government officials learn that this kid has stolen weapons grade material and has built a bomb with it, they have to gall to take over his mom's house while she cries "What gives you the right?!"

Then, and get this, then, when he learns the government has found out he has stolen weapons grade material and built a bomb with it, and he threatens to set it off for no other logical reason anyone can think of other than not wanting to get thrown in jail for something HE did, everyone acts surprised when the government acts ready to kill him to stop him and everyone thinks that's just a terrible thing. No, wait, they want to kill him not just to stop him, but also to keep the facility a secret.... after a whole bunch of people already know what's going on.

And when the bomb almost goes off because this genius kid was too stupid to know what he was doing, he gets to walk away as a local hero because he built a bomb with weapons grade material that he stole from the facility and almost wiped out his friends, family, everyone in the town and surrounding areas including the mean government officials who were ready to kill him because he threatened to set off an atomic bomb with material he stole from the facility.


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31 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Wow, this one is amazingly bad

Author: bvallely from United States
16 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

We are asked to respect a high school kid(Paul Stephens who builds a nuclear bomb, and admire how he lightheartedly carts said device in a science fair, endangering the lives of literally tens of thousands people. If this "comedy" had been a wacky, Marx Brothers/Airport type farce, that wouldn't have bothered me in the slightest. But is "comedy" (which doesn't contain a single laugh)insists that we admire the arrogant little creep. I kept wishing that Jack Bauer would come in and shove a knife in Paul's kneecap.

Marshal Brickman never directed a feature film after this, and I can't wonder why.

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24 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Not even funny...

Author: illegal_alien51
7 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I don't even wanna talk about it, I just wanna cut it down and leave it for dead. Or with other words, don't watch it unless you wanna make fun of it later! It's a half lame movie for little kids who haven't had a physics class yet and who's parents are willing to explain that something like that is never possible in real life. Here are some examples why (to get you started)

- The material being so highly concentrated I would imagine when he opens the hatch to get the jar out he'd immediately lose consciousness and die within minutes. No yellow rubber gloves are gonna protect him from the radiation.

- It looks like he's going for an implosion design with his bomb (like the Nagasaki bomb). That's really "smart". Especially since the gun design (Hiroshima bomb) is far easier to build, but maybe he is aware that the implosion design will have a far greater efficiency so he can incinerate far more people with it, if that's what he wants? (That's where another thought occurs: Why is he complaining about the morality of the lab when he builds a bomb of his own?)

- Then there is more unprotected working with the material. Even if the material was only slightly radioactive for some reason, his nice fluffy hair would have fallen out halfway through building his device. At the least we would have seen lots of vomiting!

To sum it up, tired of writing this as I am, it's just all horrible anyway! I can't understand why a movie with that name couldn't have been a bit more interesting, realistic and possibly talk about the real Manhattan Project instead!

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17 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

A bomb all right

Author: moviemaster from sanfrancisco
18 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was subjected to this utter nonsense at a friend's house. I won't go into why. At first I thought it "wasn't bad." But as the "plot" continued, I thought someone must have spiked the punch and I was high on LSD. This is one of the silliest movies ever made. There are so many stupid ideas one has to wonder if it was designed to make fun of movies as a whole. The "brilliant" kid wants to build a bomb to expose the lab for making plutonium? Hey, pick up the phone and make a call. He thinks that he can't get into any trouble because "I'm only a kid." Who told him that? For a bright boy, he doesn't seem like it. He breaks into the lab and steals plutonium... that ought to be worth 20 to life right there. He's Edward Teller in disguise and builds an A bomb with his Mattel Do it yourself kit. Yeah... sure. Best of all, he handles the plutonium with his mom's dish washing rubber gloves?!!! He'd be dead in no time. He takes his bomb to the big fair to show off? To show off what? That he's a complete nincompoop? Even the other nerds know better than that. If I hadn't been waiting for another friend in order to leave, I would have exited this complete nonsense as soon as he started playing cutesy with the plutonium strapped to the back of his toy car. This was really, really bad. 1 star for Lithgow desperately seeking a plot. 1 Star for Nixon trying ever so hard not to break out in uproarious laughter while Collet tries to explain why he wants to make a bomb.

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13 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Not bad, but...

Author: Sledgeh101 from Amsterdam
16 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I remember watching this movie in the 80s, and thinking it was a good film. There was, however, one major problem that I had with the film - the fact that the main protagonist seems to be a dummy when it comes to anything other than science. Forgetting about the fact that Paul, one of the main characters, essentially exposed a bunch of people to high- grade plutonium (no mention about any medical crisis for all the people around Paul after the happy ending), the kicker comes when he's finally confronted in a hotel in New York by John Lithgow and a bevy of military men who would like nothing more than to lock him away for a long time. Paul's nonchalance comes out in the exchange, "They can't do anything to me." "Why not?" "Because I'm underage."

HUH? You're smart enough to build a freaking nuclear bomb by yourself, including smart enough to know where to get some explosive material needed to blow the bomb up. You're also smart enough to have fooled a high-security system with a bunch of frisbees and a helpful girlfriend in order to get the plutonium (and smart enough to temporarily cover your tracks by inserting shampoo into the jar so it's not immediately noticed as missing). But what in the world makes you think that they'll let you go because "I'm underage?"

I suppose the script writer needed to show a little naiveté - after all, if Paul knew the full gravity of what he was doing, he might not have done something as reckless as he did. Instead, he might just have gone ahead with an expose without needing to win first prize at a science contest.

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14 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Entertaining enough....BUT....

Author: from Scarsdale, New York
12 December 2007

This film is entertaining enough, in fact it is quite exciting. However, in a real-life scenario, the end result would not and could not have had such a clichéd "Hollywood ending", so in that respect it sort of resembles a "fractured fairytale". The storyline is credible enough with a bit of imagination stretching, the acting is tolerable, only the irony is laid on a bit too thick. I found the attitude of the principal character to be much too cynical, unrealistic and extremely condescending, even for the likes of some precocious, science-savvy prodigy. Getting back to the entertainment value, the plot progresses expectedly only it thickens toward the direction of the surrealistic, though the basic concept is actually pretty frightening. However, the movie is watchable with its impressive cast; a young Cynthia Nixon, John Lithgow, Chris Collet et al. I have mixed feelings about this film, I did enjoy watching it, but when I began to rationalize it began to appear quite nonsensical. So, if you intend on watching it, simply keep your powers of logic and common sense subdued and it will remain an enjoyable experience.

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15 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Idiotic example of 1980's "smart kids" movie...

Author: innocuous from Raleigh, NC, USA
9 February 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I beg to disagree with some of the reviewers who believe that this film is some sort of deep commentary on the Cold War mentality of the 60's and 70's, coupled with sharp insight into the madness of the nuclear arms race.

This is a simple-minded "WarGames" wannabe, with totally unsympathetic characters (including the stereotypical idiot adults who can barely tie their shoelaces) engaging in wildly improbable/impossible activities.

This is an excellent example of why snot-nosed, self-righteous kids are not allowed to vote.

Minor Spoiler: "Hey, my self-gratification and desire to win the science fair surely trumps any concern for public safety or property rights. Plus, I get to feel like some sort of public-policy activist while I'm doing it!"

Yet, all of this might be forgivable, if the movie was any good. But it's not. Save your time and money.

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

If you like clich'e you'll love this movie

Author: nibble-1 from Miami Florida
15 February 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A boy genius builds an atomic bomb with plutonium he steals from his mother's would-be boyfriend. A barely plausible premise but what the heck it's a movie. I can only imagine the producers and actors all anticipating the acclaim that they hope to achieve with this ripoff of 'War Games'. 'War Games' featuring Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy was clever, hip, interesting, funny at times and believable: everything that this movie is not. The first scare is John Lithgow as a love interest with Jill Eikenberry. He is not likely to set feminine hearts aflutter and Jill looks great except that her hair looks like it lost a battle with a wombat. As to the cliché's (forgive me if I leave out a few dozen, as there are so many): 1) The kid opens everything with a handy nail file from his nail clipper that he always happens to have in his pocket. He even opens pin-tumbler locks which I assure you are not amenable to nail files. 2) He breaks into the lab to steal the plutonium, swaps it with a bottle of shampoo, then packs everything back into his gym bag, EXCEPT the plutonium which he tapes to the back of a remote control car. You see if he just put the plutonium in his gym bag with all the other stuff (including the huge remote controller for the car) there would be no reason to fire up the enormous Argon-Ion LASER BEAM which he uses to cut a hole in the building to smuggle out the plutonium. And of course the cutsey part where the dodering old fool of a security guard would have no reason to stumble around in dark with flashlight looking for god knows whatever while the kid zooms the car around. Duh! 3) Lithgow brings the kid a puzzle where you are supposed to get four balls in each corner, the kid sets it down and spins it. Eureka problems solved! Only you can see that coming a mile away. And the grand prize cliché is at the end, when they all must clip the six detonator wires SIMULTANIOUSLY! GASP! to prevent the impending nuclear explosion. Except that they only have (I bet you know already) FIVE wire cutters! But guess what? The kid whips out his handy-dandy nail clipper to save the day! TA-DA! Whoooo Maybe I'm being harsh and taking advantage of twenty years of hindsight, after all lasers now fit on key chains instead of taking up entire rooms, but seriously the technical direction in this movie is awful. Despite all that it is entertaining and if you have the opportunity watch it. And while you watch take a good look at all the actors that you will never see again after contributing to this bomb.

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15 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Can't suspend that much disbelief

Author: Peter (fineanimal) from San Diego, California
18 August 2002

If the beauty of film is that it encourages us to briefly suspend our disbelief and enjoy experiencing a different world, The Manhattan Project simply demands too much suspension of disbelief to make this possible.

Almost every plot point in The Manhattan Project is an absolute impossibility in real life, even though the dramatic power of this film ostensibly derives from the notion that something remotely like this could really happen. From nuclear radiation triggering detectors without hurting people, to a single rent-a-cop defending an entire nuclear weapons lab, to one teenager doing in a month what took Oppenheimer and company years, to the U.S. military letting national security breaches walk away into the sunset, there is just no way to focus on the story when faced with so many intellectual insults.

On the bright side, the science in the movie is presented well and seems fairly accurate, so it does seem like the filmmakers at least tried to make something special out of an insufficient screenplay. The Manhattan Project is not a terrible movie, but it does suffer from too many inexcusable lapses to be called good. Just like the most realistic character in the movie, this film is a bomb.

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28 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

This review gives praise to an overlooked but deserving film.

Author: linguistHP from California
11 March 2001

THE MANHATTAN PROJECT is a seriously underrated film. It's categorized and advertised as a "comedy," but in fact it's more accurately categorized as a dramatic thriller with light elements. The problem is that anyone expecting to see a comedy will be disappointed because the film is not as funny as a "comedy" needs to be. That, I believe, is why it was not as popular at the box office as it deserved to be. However, the film is an extremely smart dramatic thriller, and anyone screening it with that expectation -- and knowing its main characters are extremely bright high school kids -- will not be disappointed. THE MANHATTAN PROJECT is not a perfect film, but it is an excellent one.

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