The Manhattan Project: Special Edition – DVD Review

Available at

Studio Canal & Lionsgate present The Manhattan Project. Written by Marshall Brickman & Thomas Baum. 118 minutes. Rated PG-13. Originally Released in 1986.

Directed By:

Marshall Brickman


John Lithgow. Dr. John Mathewson
Christopher Collet. Paul Stephens
Cynthia Nixon. Jenny Anderman

The Film:

So there’s this kid who likes science. His mom’s new boyfriend takes him to his science lab to show him a good time. Here the kid realizes that the guy is producing high-grade plutonium. So what does he do? He breaks into the highly guarded government building and steals some. Why you ask? Well, so he can make a nuclear bomb in his garage. And why does would he want to do that? So he can win the science fair of course. Now I want a show of hands: who thinks that’s the stupidest idea ever?

As if the idea of the show weren’t stupid enough, but it’s boring and slow as hell to boot. Even the director thinks so, as he mentions in the DVD’s commentary. All of the characters are bland and uninteresting, not even John Lithgow can breathe life into his lifeless character.

Even if you can get past the idea of a high school kid building a homemade nuclear bomb, there’s just nothing going on here. The most exciting scene in this film is when the government is trying to arrest Paul and his girlfriend at the science fair when a group of science nerds help them escape. Seriously, that’s the highlight of the film.

Seeing a young Cynthia Nixon is kind of amusing but not nearly enough to hold someone’s attention. Some films just weren’t meant to survive the decades. This film is dated and not even a good example of its era. Best to avoid at all costs.

The DVD:

The Video:

The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1. Not only is the film boring, but the cinematography is boring too. This director does not know how to move the camera. The transfer is fine…I guess.

The Audio:

The film is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. Nothing really interesting going on in the sound either. Again, the transfer is fine but when it’s representing anything worthwhile what’s the point?


Director Commentary: Now I’ve listened to some bad commentaries in my time but rarely have I heard one this bad. Not only does he spend minutes at a time not talking, but when he is talking he’s either bad mouthing the movie and saying how there really isn’t anything to talk about. Why would a recording this bad be put out there for us to listen to?

80’s Trivia Track:Picture Pop Up Video, but not funny or interesting or having anything to do with the movie. The only good thing about this is you can play it at the same time as the commentary and get two boring things over with at the same time.

“How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb — Making The Manhattan Project” Featurette: I suppose if you are a fan of this movie, despite my review, you’ll probably find this interesting. It’s a step above your typical featurette and goes into a little better detail of the making of the movie.

“Homemade Apocalypse” Featurette: This boring waste talks about how the bomb in the film and how “brilliantly” it was designed.


The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for The Manhattan Project
(OUT OF 10)






The Inside Pulse
I don’t know how else I can say it: this film is worthless. There is no enjoyment to be found here, whether in the film or the extras. Avoid like the plague.