Real Genius

real_genius_poster“I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, when he said, ‘I drank what?'”

The Scoop: 1985 PG, directed by Martha Coolidge and starring Val Kilmer, Gabriel Jarret, and Michelle Meyrink

Tagline: It’s yet another in a long series of diversions in an attempt to avoid responsibility.

Summary Capsule: Super-smart party nerds stave off overbearing teachers and save the world.


Justin’s Rating: Just a slight androginous factor to deal with…

Justin’s Review: Once again, it’s me, Retro-Man, here to bring you another classic 80s comedy. Today’s selection is Real Genius, which stars the hunks Val Kilmer and Gabriel Jarret. Gabriel who, you ask? He’s the kid who looks like he was snatched from an evil scientist’s laboratory, where an experiment to create a male/female hybrid went terribly awry. Trust me, you’ll spend most of the movie looking at this freak and going, “That’s gotta be a boy… or girl… but why is he kissing girls… when will his voice box drop…?” It’s very disturbing, but once you get past that, you’ll discover one of the best cult comedies ever made.

Chris Knight (Kilmer) is a teen genius who goes to school with a lot of other overachieving prodigies. However, Knight doesn’t exactly desire burn-out, so he’s chosen the path less followed: loopiness. His new roommate (It’s Pat contender Mitch Taylor [Jarret]) falls into the pattern of stress and studying, and it’s up to Knight to show him the path to… partying. There’s also a weak saving-the-world plot involving a giant laser and everybody’s favorite film jerk (William Atherton, who played the reporter in Die Hard and Die Hard 2). But, overall, it’s just a situational comedy, going from scene to scene to scene.

And it’s brilliant. Did I mention that? Kilmer and Co. are wildly irreverant and extremely witty. All the comfortable targets of 80s movies are there (teachers, bullies, sexpots, beaurocrats), with the typical crazy set-ups (such as a great scene where a Japanese student turns the entire dormitory hall floor to ice for a skating festival) and kids-overcome-all attitude. While all of the characters are amusing in their own way, hats off to Michelle Mayrink as Jordon, the hyperactive insomniac who falls unexpectedly for Mitch.

You’ll laugh, you’ll mock the outdated technology, you’ll see popcorn in a whole new light. Rent this movie and tell Val Kilmer that I sent you to watch him. He’ll give you an extra-special performance just for that.

Kyle’s Review: As stated, Gabriel Jarret as Mitch isn’t exactly your average lead character. Usually, someone of his physical appearance would be viewed through an iron cage, snatching at the peanut shells being thrown at him and flinging feces at gawkers. But for Real Genius, at least, Mitch fits in perfectly: we as an audience can buy Val Kilmer being a fun, handsome genius. But two handsome geniuses? Rooming together? Not on this planet.

Real Genius is great because Chris (Kilmer) and Mitch do exactly what we, the dumb audience, would do if we were super-geniuses: use our great intellect to get beauty school chicks to come to our parties and wreak divine buttery revenge on those who have wronged us. And have a blast doing it.

You’ll have a blast watching it. Kilmer is perfect as the kind of smart guy who can easily throw an impromptu indoor waterslide party when he’s not building a better laser of hot burning death. Jarret comes along for the ride as he, and we, learn that all the smarts in the world don’t amount to a hill of popcorn if you don’t know how to kick back sometimes, relax, and occasionally ice-skate down your momentarily frozen dormitory hallway.

Not Sarah Jessica Parker

Not Sarah Jessica Parker


  • A scene where Chris floats outside his classroom suspended in a lounge chair attached to several balloons appeared in the preview version but not the release version. This is a reference to a real-life 1982 incident.
  • On a side note, I have an affinity for this movie simply because I, too, wear pink fluffy bunny slippers, like Chris Knight. And gray elephant slippers as well.
  • The drunk hamsters
  • That Chris and Prof Hathaway wear the same type of slippers
  • Jared really doesn’t have a bed (she’s an insomniac)
  • The kid who snaps under pressure
  • Why they used popcorn as a revenge tool

Groovy Quotes:

Chris Knight: Have you ever seen a body like this before in your life?
Decker: She happens to be my daughter.
Chris Knight: Oh. Then I guess you have

Jordan: I never sleep, I don’t know why. I had a roomate and I drove her nuts, I mean really nuts, they had to take her away in an ambulance and everything. But she’s okay now, but she had to transfer to an easier school, but I don’t know if that had anything to do with being my fault. But listen, if you ever need to talk or you need help studying just let me know, ’cause I’m just a couple doors down from you guys and I never sleep, okay?

Dr. Hathaway: Bodie, I noticed you stopped stuttering.
Bodie: I’ve been giving myself shock treatments.
Dr. Hathaway: Up the voltage.

Dr. Dodd: Why is that toy on your head?
Chris Knight: Because if I wear it any place else, it chafes.

Professor Hathaway: You still run?
Chris Knight: Only when chased.

Chris Knight: This? This is ice. This is what happens to water when it gets too cold. This? This is Kent. This is what happens to people when they get too sexually frustrated.

Chris Knight: Self-realization. I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, when he said, “I drank what?”

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Revenge Of The Nerds
  • PCU
  • Animal House


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