Blu-ray review: “Real Genius” (1985)

“Real Genius” (1985)


Running Time: 106 minutes

Written by: Neal Israel, Pat Proft and PJ Torokvei

Directed by: Martha Coolidge

Featuring: Val Kilmer, Gabe Jarret, Michelle Meyrink and William Atherton

Mitch: “You know, um, something strange happened to me this morning…”

Chris Knight: “Was it a dream where you see yourself standing in sort of sun-god robes on a pyramid with a thousand naked women screaming and throwing little pickles at you?”

Mitch: “No…”

Chris Knight: “Why am I the only one who has that dream?”

“Real Genius” (1985) is a classic comedy film released in 1985, directed by Martha Coolidge and starring Val Kilmer and Gabriel Jarret. The film follows a group of talented students who are recruited to work on a secret project at a prestigious university.

The story begins with a young genius named Mitch Taylor (Gabriel Jarret), who is offered a scholarship to attend Pacific Tech, a top-notch university known for its science and technology programs. Mitch is immediately introduced to his roommate, Chris Knight (Val Kilmer), a brilliant but rebellious student who spends more time pulling pranks than studying.

It turns out that Chris and his group of fellow geniuses are working on a top-secret project for the government. They are developing a powerful laser weapon that can be used to destroy enemy targets from miles away. The project is led by the ruthless Dr. Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton), who is determined to win the race to build the weapon.

Mitch is soon recruited to join the project, and he quickly discovers that the laser is not all it seems. Chris and his team have discovered that the weapon has a dangerous flaw that could cause it to malfunction and cause widespread destruction. They are determined to sabotage the project before it is too late.

The film is a hilarious and irreverent take on the world of science and academia. It pokes fun at the high-pressure environment of top universities and the egos of the brilliant minds who inhabit them. At the same time, it celebrates the spirit of creativity and innovation that drives these students to pursue their dreams and break new ground.

Val Kilmer delivers a standout performance as the charismatic Chris Knight, who is both a rebel and a genius. He brings a sense of fun and mischief to the role, making him a likable and relatable character. Gabriel Jarret also shines as the earnest and driven Mitch, who is torn between his loyalty to Dr. Hathaway and his newfound friendship with Chris.

The film’s climax is a thrilling and hilarious sequence that sees Chris and his team rig the laser to send a giant popcorn ball flying through the air and crashing into Dr. Hathaway’s house. It’s a fitting end to a film that never takes itself too seriously and always keeps the audience guessing.

One of the most striking aspects of “Real Genius” is the way it explores the idea of the responsibility that comes with scientific discovery. The film presents a complex ethical dilemma that forces the characters to choose between advancing their own careers and doing what is right for the greater good.

At the heart of the film is the character of Chris Knight, who embodies the tension between scientific progress and personal integrity. Chris is a genius who could easily have a successful career in science, but he is also deeply skeptical of authority and has a strong sense of ethics. He refuses to compromise his principles for the sake of his research, and ultimately becomes a voice of conscience for the other characters.

The film’s critique of the military-industrial complex is also notable. The laser project is driven by the government’s desire for a powerful weapon, and the scientists involved in the project are willing to overlook the potential harm that could be caused by their invention. The film suggests that the pursuit of scientific progress cannot be divorced from the political and social contexts in which it takes place.

Despite its serious themes, “Real Genius” is first and foremost a comedy, and the film’s humor is a major part of its enduring appeal. The film’s comedic moments are clever and often subversive, poking fun at academic culture and the absurdities of scientific research. From the giant ice cream sundae to the indoor rainstorm, the film is full of memorable gags and visual jokes.

“Real Genius” is a delightful and thought-provoking film that combines humor, intelligence, and heart. It is a film that celebrates the spirit of innovation and the importance of critical thinking, while also reminding us of the responsibility that comes with scientific discovery. Whether you are a science enthusiast or simply looking for a good laugh, “Real Genius” is a film that is sure to entertain and inspire.

Overall, “Real Genius” is a classic comedy that has stood the test of time. Its witty writing, strong performances, and memorable moments have made it a favorite among fans of the genre. Whether you’re a fan of science or just looking for a good laugh, this film is definitely worth checking out.


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