And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird (1991)

Josh and his younger brother Max are constantly inventing different devices, just like their deceased father did. Their newest invention, a robot that is supposed to help with household chores, is their hardest project yet. When Josh gets contacted by his dad while playing with a Ouija board, he thinks that it’s nothing but a mean prank. However, soon their robot develops a personality of it’s own and they discover that it has been possessed by the ghost of their dad. He helps the boys with their project and reveals that there is more to his death than they thought…




Full Plot:
15 year old Josh Carson and his 10 year old brother Max, the protagonists of the 1991 family comedy “And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird“, are building a robot while Charlie, their cat, is watching. When they test their creation, it short-circuits and breaks. Josh is disappointed and wants to give up, but Max insists that they are very close to making it work.

Later that day, Sarah Carson, the mom of the two boys, takes them to the “Junior Inventor Awards” and we learn that their father, Matthew Carson, who was an inventor himself, has died two years ago. The host of the award show announces the finalists. Besides Josh and Max, there is also the two time winner and bully Dwayne, who is cheered on by his equally mean father, Mr. Kotzwinkle. As there is a tie between the brothers and Dwayne, they need to demonstrate their inventions before the jury can decide who gets the 1st prize.

First, Dwayne shows off his invention: A device that sucks in tennis balls. Then Josh and Max present their moving trash can which reacts to voice commands and has a motion sensor build in to prevent it from running into something or someone.

Luckily for our protagonists, they leave the award show as winners, taking home a thousand dollars and Dwayne leaves as a sour loser. Just after they are announced as the winners, Alice, a reporter, interviews Max and asks what they are going to do with so much money. Max tells her that they will give a part of it to their mom, who is in financial trouble and that they will spend the rest on “Newman”, the new robot they’re building.

The next day, Sarah is very happy and proud of her sons, but feels bad about accepting their hard earned money. While she is talking to the boys, the phone rings and we learn that they can no longer afford to keep the house they are living in. Max gets upset and suggests selling Newman when they are finished with him and make more money that way. Sarah is touched, but doesn’t really take the suggestion seriously, as she believes that it will take an eternity to finish Newman. She remembers their dad, who spend all his time working on his inventions, but died before he could make any money off them.

Upon hearing about his dad, Josh gets upset and wants his mom to stop talking about him. We learn that he died by taking his own life. Josh is certain that he didn’t care about his family, as he chose to leave them.

Later that day at school, Josh’s day becomes a little bit better when Beth, a classmate of his, invites him to her upcoming Halloween party.

After school, Josh and Max buy the supplies necessary to complete their robot. On their way home they run into Steve, Sarah’s new boyfriend, who arrives in a flashy red sports car, blasting loud music. He kisses Sarah, making the boys uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, the brothers soon notice that they still lack some essential things and have to go Mr. Kotzwinkle, who owns a whole storage hall full of hardware, to get the last things in exchange for older parts they no longer need. Mr. Kotzwinkle tries to squeeze some details out of them and Max reveals that they are building a robot, that they called “Newman”, but Josh interrupts him before he can tell more.

After having finally acquired all necessary elements, Josh and Max can build their robot at last. They test it by typing in commands into a computer and it initially seems to react to their commands accordingly. However, they soon have to discover that it is actually just performing random movements and that it is not even connected to the computer at all.

Alice, the reporter, comes by their house and wants to see the new robot, but Josh turns her down and closes the door. He asks him mom to not tell anyone about Newman until it’s actually done.

In the evening, Sarah brings Josh to Beth’s Halloween party. Her house is full and loud music is playing. He is the only one who is not wearing a costume and feels rather uncomfortable. He searches the entire house before he finds Beth. She is playing with a Ouija board and he joins in. Beth asks whether there is a spirit present who wants to contact Josh. Suddenly, the planchette moves by itself, giving Josh a fright. Beth gets excited and puts his hands on the planchette. The planchette spells out “Dad” and the lights flicker. Josh thinks it’s a mean prank and runs off visibly upset.

Back at the house, we see a blue light falling from the sky and dropping through the roof of house, before landing in the lab and possessing Newman. Newman gains consciousness and watches Charlie, the cat, sniffing him. Alice is sneaking around the property and sees the blue flash from outside. Her hunger for a good story takes over and she breaks into the house. At the same time Josh comes home, so she sneaks out again. When he hears noises coming from the lab, he grabs a hammer and goes to investigate, but only manages to spot Charlie, who is sitting by Newman’s side. He is relieved, but smells smoke and as he can not identify the source of it, he is still weirded out.

At night, when the family is asleep, Newman wanders through the house and lovingly observes Josh, Max and Sarah. Charlie is very affectionate towards the robot and follows it around.

The next day, Beth apologizes to Josh and swears that she didn’t know that his father is dead. She tells him that the planchette went really hot after he left and Josh tells her about the strange smoke smell. Suddenly, Dwayne bumps into them and reminds Josh that he hates to lose.

While the boys are away, Newman is trying to find his voice and settles on a very human sounding one.

Josh bring Beth home, after she convinces him to show her Newman. She wants him to demonstrate his skills by trying to make him grab a screwdriver, but Josh insists that the robot has not been programmed to do so yet. However, to his surprise, Newman reaches out, takes it and even says: “Here, I took the screw driver, can you scratch my back?”. Josh can not believe what is happening and says goodbye to Beth, before rushing to Max to find out how he made that happen. Max thinks that Josh is drunk and imagining things, but gets proven wrong when Newman speaks again. He reveals to the boys that he is their dead father speaking through Newman. They are blown away and want to know how he got there. He explains that Josh has summoned him with the help of the Ouija board and that he has been trying to return to them for a long time. When Sarah calls the brothers, their dad asks them not to tell her anything about what they just learned.

At night, Newman watches Sarah through an open door. She spots him and the boys have to reveal to her that their robot is done. Newman changes his voice to a more robotic sounding one and compliments Sarah, who is immediately charmed.

He quickly becomes part of the family and helps out with the household. He serves the family hot coco, washes the car, mows the lawn and keeps the house clean. Whenever the boys are at school, Sarah is chatting with Newman, who keeps using the robotic voice when she is near to not reveal his real identity. She is constantly surprised at how well he knows the house and the family.

At school, Beth wants to convince Josh to show everyone their new robot and excitedly goes on about how it will make him famous – while Dwayne happens to overhear the conversation.

Back home, Sarah and Newman dance around in the living room, when Alice sneaks up to the house once again and films them.

On his way home from school, Max runs into Alice, who is presenting him with a cool bike. She tells him that it could be his if he was famous and that famous people can afford a lot of things – like a house.

In the evening, the family watches old home videos with Newman. Once again, he gives remarks containing information that only them and her husband Matthew could have known, making Sarah suspicious. Newman says that Matthew most certainly misses them greatly, making Sarah break down and cry.

Click here to unfold the remaining story (SPOILER WARNING)

Later on, when Newman is alone, Josh confronts him aggressively. He wants his father’s ghost to finally leave them alone. Kicking Newman, Josh says that he never liked him and doesn’t feel any pity for him, as he himself chose to die and leave them. Matthew is surprised and reveals that he didn’t commit suicide at all. Josh tells him that they were told that he was depressed, but Matthew explains that he was down because someone has stolen his designs for the computer he worked on, but he was not generally depressed. He was on his way to the thief when he had an accident and died. Matthew apologizes for not being there for his sons and promises to at least help them making Newman work.

After lots of work and Matthew’s help, the boys finally make Newman’s speech function work and after an all nighter, they even manage to make him pick up a glass of juice on command.

Meanwhile, Josh’s efforts to keep Newman secret turn out to be for naught. Alice’s report on Newman airs on TV, showing Max’s interview that she convinced him to do using the bike and the footage of Sarah and Newman dancing. Dwayne and his father Mr. Kotzwinkle also happen to watch it.

Immediately, a curious crowd gathers around the Carson house. They peek through the windows and try to get in. Beth is among them and Josh manages to pull her inside. She explains that a report about Newman has been aired on TV. Max walks by, overhears the conversation and immediately starts running away, revealing that he is responsible for leaking the secret. Josh runs after him and grabs him. Josh is angry as he thinks that now others will just copy Newman and make their own robot, before they themselves can even be finished. Newman tries to calm the boys down and explains that nobody would not know how. Sarah walks in and hears Newman talk in Matthew’s voice, which she recognizes immediately. The boys finally reveal to her that Newman is possessed by the ghost of their dead father. She is shocked, but admits that it felt all along like Matthew was back in her life. Beth, who stands on the side, is let in on their secret as well.

Later, Steve comes by and tells Sarah that he just got paid 25.000$ as a first payment for him to write the book that he always wanted to write. He is excited and proposes to her with a ring. Sarah is still shaken up from before and declines, making Steve leave in disappointment.

In the meantime, Dwayne and his father get contacted by Mr. Jaeger, a business man who has heard the news about Newman and wants to pay the two a lot of money to make their own robot, that his company can then mass produce later. He tells them that if they can’t come up with their own design, they better just steal Newman and figure it out from there.

Back at the house, Alice shows up once again and apologizes for the trouble she has caused. She wants to make up for it by introducing them to Mr. Kilbrandt, a robotics expert. He wants to have a look at Newman and asks for a demonstration. Luckily, Newman works as it should and Mr. Kilbrandt is interested in buying it’s design to mass produce more robots like him. He asks when he can pick Newman up, so that the designers can take him apart. That is when the boys have to say no, as their father’s ghost inhabits the robot’s body and they don’t want to lose him again.

Mr. Kilbrandt is disappointed, but gives them his card in case they change their minds.

This night, Dwayne and his father break into the Carson house. They steal Newman and bring him back to their own place. Matthew speaks through the robot and we learn that Mr. Kotzwinkle was the one who stole Matthew’s computer designs. Mr. Kotzwinkle is surprised that Matthew has come back to haunt him, but is not impressed and wants to take Newman apart immediately. Newman kicks him in the crotch and rolls away, trying to escape. He gets into a car and drops a box onto the gas pedal to drive, but Dwayne soon catches up with him and takes away the box, making the car come to a halt.

In the morning, Sarah and the kids notice that Newman has been stolen. They call a policeman, but he doesn’t see the point of starting an urgent investigation to find a piece of metal. The family realizes that they need to find Newman themselves. Steve joins them and together, they go to Beth to use the Ouija board in hopes of contacting Matthew once again.

Instead of Matthew, they end up contacting the ghost of famous scientist Albert Einstein, who tells them that Newman is with Mr. Kotzwinkle. They inform the police and immediately leave to get Newman.

When they arrive, Mr. Kotzwinkle has unfortunately already disassembled Newman and is working out the design while Mr. Jaeger overlooks the process. The police is nowhere to be found, so Josh walks in himself, followed by Steve.

Much to Josh’s disappointment, what he finds inside, is Newman scattered into many pieces. Dwayne walks in and makes fun of Josh, who throws himself at Dwayne. Mr. Kotzwinkle runs in and grabs Josh, but has to drop him again when Steve runs in to his defense. Mr. Jaeger tries to get away in his car, but Sarah blocks his way and the police arrive just in time to arrest him.

The family can finally take Newman back to their house, where the boys assemble him. Matthew explains that he is glad to be back with them but that, unfortunately, he still needs to go as he no longer belongs into their world.

With the help of Albert Einstein, who they contact through the Ouija board once again, they help Matthew return. He tells them they he loves them and that he will always be with them in one form or another. He asks Steve to take care of his family and promises to greet their deceased grandmother. He says goodbye, small blue lights dance around on the robot’s body and Matthew leaves.

Suddenly, Mr. Kilbrandt walks in and tells the family that their father just called him and said that they wanted to talk to him. He asks where their father is and Josh replies that he doesn’t know, but that he will return in some form or another. Newman agrees and looks out the window, up to the sky and salutes.

The camera zooms out and we see the starry night sky. A blue light flashes up and disappears.

Joshua John Miller as Josh Carson
Edan Gross as Max Carson
Marcia Strassman as Sarah Carson
Eric Walker as Dwayne Kotzwinkle
John Quade as Mr. Kotzwinkle
Susan Gibney  as Alice Woods
A.J. Langer as Beth Allen
Sam Behrens as Steve Franklin
Alan Thicke as Matthew Carson/Newman (voice)
Gustav Vintas as Mr. Jaeger
Bill Smillie as Mr. Kilbrandt

Tony Cookson

And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird (1991) on IMDB

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