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Real Genius (1985)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Romance, Sci-Fi  |  7 August 1985 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 22,420 users  
Reviews: 124 user | 46 critic

Teenage geniuses deal with their abilities while developing a laser.



(screenplay), (story), 3 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mitch Taylor (as Gabe Jarret)
Lazlo Hollyfeld (as Jonathan Gries)
Sherry Nugil
Shuttle Pilot
Daniel Ades ...
Laser Ray Victim
Andres Aybar ...
Louis Giambalvo ...
Maj. Carnagle
David Decker
Charles Shull ...
Air Force General
Charles Parks ...
Boy at Science Fair


Mitch is one of the youngest students ever accepted to a university known for its programs for geniuses. He's partnered up with his roommate, science club legend Chris Knight, on a project to develop a high-powered laser. Together with their hyper-kinetic friends, they employ their intellects in the pursuit of bigger blasts, practical jokes, and a deeper understanding of what real genius is. When their final, functional laser is stolen by their teacher for a military weapon, they decide to get even. Written by Lordship <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


When he gets mad, he doesn't get even... he gets creative. See more »


Comedy | Romance | Sci-Fi


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

7 August 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Academia de genios  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$13,000,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The motorcycle that 'Ick' is seen riding outside of Jerry Hathaway's house is a Yamaha 550 Vision. See more »


The successful laser test shoots a hole through the cinder blocks, out the lab window, and through the head of the statue on the campus lawn. Later, the statue is shown with the head intact. See more »


Kent: And I suppose you're in on this too. Did you make this stuff?
'Ick' Ikagami: I'm not saying.
Kent: Well who's gonna clean it up?
'Ick' Ikagami: You won't have to. It's gonna go from solid form directly to gas.
Kent: Whoa! Really? What is it?
'Ick' Ikagami: I'm not sayin', but I can tell you it's fairly rare and very unstable.
Chris Knight: Just like you.
See more »


References The Mighty Mouse Playhouse (1955) See more »


Everybody Wants to Rule the World
Written by Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley and Chris Hughes
Performed by Tears for Fears
Courtesy of Phonogram, Limited
See more »

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User Reviews

Consummate 80's Period film - Exceedingly Witty Dialog
3 September 2005 | by (Atlanta, GA, United States) – See all my reviews

As a child of the 80s, I have a soft spot in my heart for creatively-executed movies from this period. At their worst, 80s movies become dated more quickly than films from nearly any other period in film history. At their best, 80s movies reflect the cultural undertones of an exciting time where humor and optimism were rampant in films despite the specter of cold war, the advent of AIDS and a rocky economy.

Real Genius takes the happy, go-lucky optimism of the 80s and superimposes it on the grim topics of military research, cold war espionage and assassination. The movie is set in a west-coast college (see Caltech, Berkeley, Stanford) and makes full use of the hyper-intelligent, eccentric dialog you might expect in elite California academia. The sound track from Thomas Newman (Less than Zero, American Beauty and many others) is technically complex and involving and fits the movie perfectly. At times, the movie suffers from the usual poor depiction of science (see lame computer applications and some bad blue screen work on aircraft) and unbelievable scenarios (see water slide in lecture hall and ice sledding in dormitory). Despite these forgivable breaches, the Neal Israel's unique dialog is truly brilliant, the situational comedy is eccentric, and the humor is uplifting. Val Kilmer is outstanding in his portrayal of Chris Knight and I lament his departure from this odd and extremely intelligent form of comedy (See Top Secret) - Though Kilmer has been involved with "better" movies since, I don't think he has ever been more genuinely entertaining.

I think this movie is a must-watch for anyone who enjoys science, comedy and the 80s genre, or for anyone who is planning on attending a technology school on the West coast. This movie may not depict reality, but it communicates a hopeful spirit we could all use more of in today's world of harsh reality.

23 of 30 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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