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27,361
135 user 52 critic

Real Genius (1985)

Teenage geniuses deal with their abilities while developing a high-powered laser for a university project. When their professor intends to turn their work into a military weapon, they decide to ruin his plans.

Director:

Martha Coolidge

Writers:

Neal Israel (screenplay), Neal Israel (story) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
4,314 ( 1,469)

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From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Val Kilmer ... Chris Knight
Gabriel Jarret ... Mitch Taylor (as Gabe Jarret)
Michelle Meyrink ... Jordan Cochran
William Atherton ... Prof. Jerry Hathaway
Jon Gries ... Lazlo Hollyfeld (as Jonathan Gries)
Patti D'Arbanville ... Sherry Nugil
Stacy Peralta ... Shuttle Pilot
Daniel Ades Daniel Ades ... Laser Ray Victim
Andres Aybar Andres Aybar ... Bartender
Louis Giambalvo ... Major Carnagle
Ed Lauter ... David Decker
Charles Shull Charles Shull ... Air Force General
Beau Billingslea ... George
Charles Parks Charles Parks ... Larry
Sean Frye ... Boy at Science Fair
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Storyline

Mitch Taylor is one of the youngest students ever accepted to a university known for its programs for geniuses. He partners up with his roommate, science club legend Chris Knight, on a project to develop a high-powered laser. Together with their hyperkinetic friends, they employ their intellects in the pursuit of bigger blasts, practical jokes, and a deeper understanding of what real genius means. When they find out that their professor intends to turn their work over to the military for use as a weapon, they decide to get even. Written by Lordship <lordship@juno.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Who ELSE can turn lasers into light shows, aircraft into armchairs, and high-tech into hijinks? See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Romance | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 August 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Real Genius See more »

Filming Locations:

Claremont, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$13,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Delphi III Productions See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Kent's car (pranked and later used by Mitch and Chris) is a 1972 Citroen DS-21. See more »

Goofs

Given that Laszlo was still mailing contest entries just before Chris' final exam, and that the Crossbow test was likely within days of that exam, it doesn't seem plausible for Laszlo to pull up to the test aftermath with all his contest prizes. There wouldn't even be time for the aforementioned batch of entries to arrive at the company and be processed before the test! In reality, it would probably be several months between the end of the contest and the arrival of any winnings. Additionally, prizes from different manufacturers would likely be shipped separately, and at different times. See more »

Quotes

Chris Knight: Oh, Kent, that is so unfair! And we were going to make you King of the Winter Carnival.
Kent: Really?
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Alternate Versions

The UK theatrical and video versions were censored for a 15 certificate:
  • The line, "Can you hammer a six-inch nail through a board with your penis?" was removed.
The 2002 DVD is uncut. See more »

Connections

References The Mighty Mouse Playhouse (1955) See more »

Soundtracks

Number One
Written by Chaz Jankel, Ian Dury and Norman Watt-Roy
Performed by Chaz Jankel
Courtesy of A&M Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Consummate 80's Period film - Exceedingly Witty Dialog
3 September 2005 | by iadams-3See 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.


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