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Real Genius
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Reviews & Ratings for
Real Genius More at IMDbPro »

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46 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

More than just a guilty pleasure of a movie . . .

10/10
Author: Aldanoli from Ukiah, California
18 July 2001

Siskel and Ebert once ran a special show entitled "Movies I'm Embarrassed to Admit I Liked." I suppose that if I composed such a list of guilty pleasures, this one would be one of them . . . but upon reflection, it's really a lot better than that. Fifteen year-old science prodigy Mitch (Gabe Jarret) is recruited by ambitious college professor Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton, in yet another of his patented roles as a loathsome character) to work on the professor's prize laser project, not knowing that Hathaway is really developing a government weapon. Along the way, Mitch is mentored by Chris (Val Kilmer), another prodigy a few years his senior who teaches Mitch how to loosen up.

This could have degenerated into nothing more than just another teen revenge comedy, but there's so much more: the dialogue is laced with sharp wit; there are some lovely scenes that have nothing to do with the story yet are carefully set up, almost as blackouts (e.g., Mitch goes to a lecture at which a few students have left tape recorders instead of attending; later, at another lecture there are more tape recorders than students; and, in a final scene, one large tape recorder gives the lecture to a room populated by nothing but other small recorders!); and throw-away scenes that make you want to stop and back up the story to watch again (e.g., Chris off-handedly cutting a slice off a bar of dry ice to make a slug for the coffee machine).

It's also one of the few movies to boast the presence of the memorable Michelle Meyrink -- as Jordan, the "girl-nerd" who made being smart and female (and still quite sexy) something to emulate. And there's Tears for Fears' great song, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" providing the perfect coda as the closing credits begin to roll . . . . Yes: really now, what's there to be embarrassed about?

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37 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

One of the all time best 80's college movies

10/10
Author: thirdi from United States
3 November 2001

Val Kilmer is hilarious as a college genius on par with Einstein, but is more interested in partying and chasing girls. A new arrival to the campus, Mitch, is a brilliant 15 year-old whom Val takes under his wing and tries to get to loosen up and have a good time.

There are probably some important themes and ideas to analyze within this movie, but for me it's just an old-school personal favorite that I've seen about 100 times. Great 80's music soundtrack and funny performances. William Atherton is perfect as the self-important, snobby professor, and another highlight is Robert Prescott, who plays his butt-kissing, nerdy assistant "Kent".

A movie that asks the question, isn't life experience just as important for education, as classrooms and books? A very funny, fine film that is up there with "Animal House" in my opinion.

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33 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

Bright examination of youth and intelligence

Author: pooch-8 from Fargo, North Dakota
8 January 1999

It is unfortunate that Val Kilmer so quickly "graduated" from the realm of youth oriented roles, as his work in Real Genius is by far the most enjoyable to watch. Kilmer proves adept at excellent comic timing, and he is given a motherlode of razor-sharp one-liners to fire off in every scene (I speculate that writer Pat Proft enjoyed watching The Marx Brothers in his formative years). Chief drawback of this film is the hammy, sneering villain played by Atherton -- as the old saying goes, just give him a mustache to twirl. But if you happened to see the film as a young person, the above-mentioned won't get in the way of your fond memories. I sure know that every time I see that slow-motion romp through the popcorn and hear Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," ramp up on the soundtrack, my cynicism just melts away.

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27 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Terrific '80's Film

8/10
Author: Michael O'Brien (girardi_is_god@yahoo.com) from Stroudsburg, PA
1 December 2003

I've noticed that some people who've commented on REAL GENIUS do not appear impressed. This must be either because they lack a sense of humor or simply don't know a good movie when they see one. Val Kilmer is hysterical, the script is filled with clever one-liners. William Atherton is THE ego-meniacle bad guy. And Chris Knight and Mitch Taylor have a guy named Lazlow living in their closet. Come on, this film is terrific. I could watch this film every day. It's that good.

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17 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A High IQ version of Animal House

Author: wally-70 from Los Angeles, California
13 June 2003

This movie is in the genre of Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds but features a cast of geniuses working on a laser, with one of the professors and his minions being the opposition.

It is in my top 10 films of all time list.

The humorous dialog goes on between ALL the characters but Val Kilmer has center stage even though the story seems to be about Mitch, the new 15 year old, premature college geek.

It is a magical movie that can truly lift your spirits if you are depressed. You can watch it over and over again because its power is not so much in the story but in the superb and genuinely captivating interaction between Val Kilmer and the rest of the cast.

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19 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Terrific nostalgia trip down 80s memory lane - loved it!

9/10
Author: David Kohen (heisenberg83) from London, England
13 November 2005

Had very fond memories of this film as a kid in the 80s. Still holds up even today. DVD widescreen format shows off how well directed this movie is. Val Kilmer is terrific as the genius slacker hero. The whole cast gel well together, and the dialogue is very sharp and well-written (reminded me of TV show Scrubs in places). Had me laughing out loud in many places - rare for a modern version like American Pie. Lots of tasty 80s musical montages scattered throughout. Something really likable and positive about this movie, leaves you feeling really good at the end. Highly recommended - really hasn't dated at all. An enjoyable trip down 80s memory lane!

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16 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

The Real Genius is the writers...

Author: Gislef from Iowa City, IA
3 September 1998

This movie is an incredible display of verbal byplay, interplay, and foreplay, and Pat Proft (of Naked Gun and Hot Shots fame) writes some of the funniest dialogue ever. But give credit to Val Kilmer: he hits every line perfectly (see lots and lots of Quotes). Even the minor characters get their moment in the spotlight, and the plot isn't dumbed down for the audience. If this isn't what happens at M.I.T. and similar institutes, you wish it did...and that you could sign up. Only Gabriel Jarrett comes across as a bit weak, but the rest of the cast bolsters him up.

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20 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

A smart film

Author: Matt Stallworth from Atlanta, GA
19 January 1999

First off: This is an 80s movie. It contains within it certain aspects of the 80s film genre which may cause you to cringe. A youthful, innocent boy gets corrupted by the feckless rebel; a vicious adult has his own agenda; boy gets seduced by teenage girl who may or may not be the current sex symbol. All generalizations aside, the roles in this movie are well-written and well-played. Val Kilmer is at his absolute best, William Atherton is as sly as Jeffrey Jones is oafish in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." The supporting heroine is annoying and unneeded, but who needs her when you've got Jonathan Gries to laugh at? All-around fun and plenty of one-liners that'll have you wishing you could be so witty.

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21 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Consummate 80's Period film - Exceedingly Witty Dialog

10/10
Author: iadams-3 from Atlanta, GA, United States
3 September 2005

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.

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Jiffy Pop

7/10
Author: aimless-46 from Kentucky
28 November 2005

The imagination and quality of Hollywood movies in the early and mid 80's had regressed back to the pre "Bonnie and Clyde" days (the early and mid-60's being the worst ever period of American movie-making).

Fortunately there were a few gems like "Real Genius" to sustain audiences. Any film that features a memorable moment like Deborah Foreman's articulation of her standards for a male companion, a memorable character like Michelle Meyrink's hyper-kinetic Jordon, and the memorable sight of a house exploding from the force of a giant Jiffy Pop container can never be forgotten.

And who doesn't feel good just watching the neighborhood kids play in a mountain of popcorn to the sound of Tears For Fears' "Everybody Wants To Rule The World".

Although "Real Genius" has not totally escaped the ravages of the past 20 years, it has held up reasonably well. Now it can even be appreciated as a sort of time capsule, demonstrating rather strikingly the complete computerization of the applied sciences that has occurred during the relatively short time period since its 1985 release. Other than Kent's incidental use of an early computer in his dorm room and a mostly decorative monitor in the lab, these now essential machines are absent from this techno film. Amazing!

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.

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