Running Time: 108 Minutes
Director: Martha Coolidge
Starring: Val Kilmer, Gabriel Jarret, William Atherton, Michelle Meyrink, Robert Prescott, Jon Gries
Plot: Mitch, a fresh-faced science prodigy gets recruited to lead a science program at some generic fictional college, where he is assigned to be room-mates with Chris Knight (Kilmer). Chris teaches Mitch that there’s more to life than studying…such as being a bad-ass, flippant party animal. When they aren’t pranking their colleagues and sticking it to The Man; the two geniuses are working against the clock to develop a very powerful laser beam (the 80s were all about lasers and synthesizers). Sure, their combined genius is enough to make the laser work. No Duh. But will it be enough to stop it from being used for evil?
Review: I don’t want to pat myself on the back here, but I crushed that plot synopsis so hard I’m not even sure a review is necessary at this point. One thing I do want to clarify is that the great Val Kilmer is playing a college genius turned party boy named Chris Knight; he is not playing the actor from the hit television series The Brady Bunch. I cannot stress that enough. That being said, I would watch this movie either way. I also want to say that while this movie might not be “good” by most popularly accepted standards; it did pave the way for such classic films as National Lampoon’s Van Wilder and the Disney Channel original movie Genius, and for that we all owe it a tremendous debt of gratitude.
It’s true that this movie isn’t what you would exactly call “funny.” It’s a comedy in name only. Just because it isn’t funny doesn’t mean it wasn’t trying really, really hard. Sure, it’s probably never won any awards. I wouldn’t expect it to. I’m merely submitting that maybe it should get a participation ribbon. To Real Genius‘ credit, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t contain anything overtly racist (a fact which is honestly astounding for a film of this ouvre). It does, however, playfully gloss over what would rightfully be considered some very serious sex crimes (typical, 80s, just fucking typical). An argument could be made that the two cancel each other out.
All told, this movie is a far cry from uproarious, but Val Kilmer delivers his obnoxious quips with more aplomb than most people could muster. Plus it has the evil douchebag from Ghostbusters being…wait for it… an evil douchebag. It’s hard not to love to hate him. If you like movies like WarGames, Teen Wolf, or the Short Circuit series then…well, then we’re kindred spirits and you’ve no doubt seen this already. If not this is adequate for background noise while doing chores in the afternoon. Trust me, if you fall asleep before the end of it there’s really no big deal. At the end of the day I would still recommend everybody watch this, but for purely self-serving reasons. If enough of you make it all the way to the end maybe somebody can explain to me how using the laser to prank their professor insures that the government won’t weaponize it again.