Picks and Pans Review: Electric Dreams

updated 08/13/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/13/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

A fantasy about a computer that takes over the life—and love life—of a novice hacker, this is an ideal summer movie, at least for this Orwellian summer. Lenny (Tender Mercies) Von Dohlen is straight-faced as a klutzy, lovable San Francisco yuppie who gets his first taste of 1984 after buying a personal computer named Edgar. Everything runs smoothly until he and Edgar begin to vie for the affections of Virginia Madsen (who's in the upcoming Dune), a concert cellist who becomes enamored of the PC's musical compositions, thinking they're Von Dohlen's. It's a high tech triangle: boy, girl and oversexed machine. True love triumphs, but is it a match made in heaven or Silicon Valley? While Von Dohlen and Madsen make a charming screen couple, Bud Cort steals the film as the voice of Edgar, a villain with a printed circuit where his heart should be. Whether scheming to ruin Von Dohlen's credit rating or calling Dr. Ruth Westheimer for advice on love, Cort displays the same sly charm and caustic wit that made him so endearing in the 1971 cult classic Harold and Maude. Director Steve Barron, responsible for Michael Jackson's smash Billie Jean video, resists the temptation to make this a 96-minute MTV special, taking time to develop the strange triangular relationship. Barron does dip into his video repertoire though, synchronizing explosive visual effects with an equally slick sound track that includes songs by Giorgio Moroder, Culture Club, Heaven 17 and Electric Light Orchestra's Jeff Lynne. It all comes together as an escapist package that is exactly what it should be: audience-friendly fun. (PG)

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