Real Genius (1985) ~ You Might Have Missed It


Think you know Val Kilmer? You might’ve seen him in Top Gun, Tombstone, Heat and even maybe Willow… but until you’ve seen REAL GENIUS, you can’t fully appreciate Val Kilmer.

No, this isn’t part of my Film Quest ’13 series of movie review articles. It doesn’t qualify because I’ve seen REAL GENIUS probably 30 times. In this edition of You Might Have Missed It, I’m cluing you into the reasons why you should run (don’t walk) to the nearest opportunity to see the 1985 should-be classic.

Why I Saw It: Its one of those movies that showed up on cable back in the early 1990’s and because I didn’t have anything I’d rather do than watch movies, I checked it out.

What Was It About?  “Teenage geniuses deal with their abilities while developing a laser.

Rating: 9.6 out of 10

Memorable Performances: There are only two guys in the film who I’ve seen elsewhere following this film, to any significant degree, that is. Both Val Kilmer and William Atherton do great work in their respective roles, and their characters will forever be entrenched in my mind, linked to them as actors. For Val Kilmer, the only thing which tops his Christopher Knight from REAL GENIUS is Iceman from TOP GUN… but that would be tough to beat.

profession gŽnieFavorite Parts: The following scenes, which I will attempt to describe without giving any spoilers, are part of my movie memory which are amongst my favorite parts in any film:

  • Lazlo And His Closet
  • Braces Wired To God
  • Contest Entries Unlimited
  • Auditorium Pool Party
  • Dormitory Ice Rinks
  • The Biggest Jiffy-Pop Imaginable

The Regrettable Aspects: It always frustrates me when I really enjoy a movie or television show, and then some of the actors portraying memorable characters don’t find any significant work as a follow-up. The majority of the cast here certainly suffers that fate.

Would Anyone NOT Enjoy It?  I’d say the only people who wouldn’t enjoy this film are people who don’t like films about college kids. There’s nothing lewd about the film. No nudity, very sparse swearing (the Parental Guide mentions “damn” and “hell” but nothing more). The fact that the film is nearly 30 years old at this point shouldn’t be a deterrent, as it doesn’t really feel “dated” at all… which is weird, given that it includes quite a bit of technology at the center of its plot.


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