Let me tell you, eleven-year-old me thought WarGames was awesome.
Written by future Sneakers co-writers Lawrence Lasker and Walter F. Parkes and directed by John Badham*, who would gift us with the ancient future movies Blue Thunder and Short Circuit, is about a young hacker (Matthew Broderick) who unwittingly logs on to a server that allows him to simulate wargames with a computer called WOPR that really thinks that it’s time to start a nuclear war.
For many, WarGames was their first mainstream exposure** to hacking and formed the idea that one lone kid in his bedroom could take over so many major computer systems. That may be fantasy, but the real dream here is that someone that’s on his computers for weeks at a time without leaving his bedroom could score Ally Sheedy.
Shout out to Dabney Coleman in this, who continually raised the bar when it came to playing, well, Dabney Coleman roles in a variety of 80’s films. He’s one of the first actors I remember consciously thinking, “This is that guy.” Between 9 to 5, Cloak and Dagger and Tootsie, he’s always dependable.
The tunnel to NORAD in this movie may seem familiar. That’s because it shows up at the end of Back to the Future Part II and is the entrance to Toontown in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
The funniest thing to me is that they made a music video for a Crosby, Stills and Nash song made for the movie but edited out. That’s what kids in 1983 wanted to see, right?
*Martin Brest was the original director for all of 12 days. His next three films — Beverly Hills Cop, Midnight Run and Scent of a Woman — probably erased the pain of this movie. Then he got stuck making Meet Joe Black and Gigli.
**It’s the reason for the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984. Representative Dan Glickman opened the legislation by saying, “We are gonna show about four minutes from the movie WarGames, which outlines the problem fairly clearly.” The ensuing House committee report claimed WarGames showed a realistic representation of the automatic dialing and access capabilities of the personal computer.”