I just realized upon finishing ‘Real Genius’ that I’m really burning through the 1980’s for this blog. I’m glad this one is among the rest though, because it’s a blast, and one of the funniest movies I’ve seen recently. Val Kilmer and Gabriel Jarret star as Chris Knight and Mitch Taylor respectively, in a movie that, while very fun to watch, has a lot of issues as well. Real Genius is at it’s best when Chris and Mitch are dealing with their issues of growing up as geniuses in a world that isn’t very accepting of them socially. They’re a great duo for the first and second acts of the movie, but the third relies so much on explaining the ridiculous plot turns and setting up gags, that the characters take a back seat, and it feels like a missed opportunity to make a truly classic movie.
Real Genius follows 15 year old Mitch Taylor as he is accepted into a prestigious technical university to work on a top secret science project. Also working on it is the legendary Chris Knight, a irreverent slacker who also happens to be brilliant. The two face opposition by their fellow group mate (and teachers pet) Kent, as well as the professor leading the project. What the students don’t know is that they are helping to build a high-powered military laser, capable from disintegrating anyone on Earth from space, within seconds. The plot of the movie goes off the rails around the point they find out what they’ve built, as it gets a little too close to ‘Wargames’ territory, instead of sticking to the great characters it set up.
There are a few things that make me really like this movie, even with its faults. The first is Val Kilmer. I never really felt one way or another about him in anything (except maybe ‘Heat) but my god, he’s great in this. He plays Chris Knight pitch perfect, as the genius, self-aware slacker that he is. I doubt a lot of the physicality he brings to Chris was in the script, because it feels like he improvised a lot in this movie. Other than him, the rest of the actors could have been in any other 80’s teen adventure movie, but Kilmer really helps lift it out of those genre trappings.
Another thing that was great about Real Genius was its depiction of “nerds”. I use quotes because the movie understands what a nerd really is. They aren’t just social outcasts, or science geeks in this movie. Sure, they’re all incredibly smart, but they’re all different and unique in their own way. It’s a really subversive move on the writer and directors part, and it’d be great if we had more of that open-mindedness in movies today ^cough, cough, TRANSFORMERS, cough^
So that’s gonna wrap up ‘Real Genius’. It also wraps up ‘Brent Watches Movies’ for the month of June (already)! I’m having a lot of fun doing this, and while it’s been hard to keep up with the original daily schedule I planned on, I’m doing my best to stick to it. Like always, let me know if you have any suggestions for this thing, or any movies I should check out. Thanks for reading!