Sometimes, you need a break from horror and sci-fi and action and death. Not, you know, a lot, but sometimes. A decent remedy for all that darkness? The 80’s and Val Kilmer.
This one’s pretty fun.
Mitch (Gabriel Jarret)) is a fifteen year old super genius who gets accepted into this big deal science college to work in Professor Jerry Hathaway’s lab, along with a bunch of other science geeks including legendary—and crazy partier—Chris Knight (Val Kilmer). But unbeknownst to them (but knownst to us) Hathaway (William Atherton) is a bit of a bastard and is secretly planning to give the laser they’re working on to the US government, who will fiendishly use it to assassinate people with.
1. Real Genius is yet another movie from the most awesome year ever in the history of all years: 1985.
2. Val Kilmer almost single-handedly makes this movie for me. It’s not like everyone else is bad—they aren’t—or there are big problems with the film despite him—there aren’t any—but not unlike Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, Chris Knight just shines brighter than anyone or anything else in the film. And while other actors might have made Knight obnoxious or irritating, Kilmer keeps him both funny and lovable. There’s something very endearing about Chris Knight, particularly during any of his little freak outs of jubilation and triumph.
3. Although when he’s mad, Chris Knight does like to kick stuff. I think there’s at least three different scenes where Kilmer proceeds to kick the shit out of everything in the room.
4. I also really like Jordan (Michelle Meyrink), Mitch’s oddball of a love interest.
Nerdy girls in movies are often portrayed in one of two ways: one, as shy, sweet, surprisingly gorgeous girls who are waiting for someone to take off their glasses and let the world see how beautiful they are, or two, as smelly girls. Smelly, dirty, creepy girls who you don’t quite feel comfortable being alone with.
Jordan is awkward, yes, and strange, and she has a very unusual conversational style, but there’s something completely endearing about her, something that I can’t quite pinpoint. I like that she manages to be funny without also being the butt of every joke. I feel like I haven’t seen a character quite like her recently, and it’s a refreshing sort of feeling.
5. And continuing with the girl power . . . Real Genius is directed by a woman too! I’ve reviewed a decent amount of movies on this blog, but how many of them can I think off offhand that were directed by women? Two! And that’s including this one.
This is a sad state of affairs, people.
6. Also a sad state of affairs? Some of the stuff that Kent (aka Bad Guy Lite) wears. Even for the 80’s, it’s pretty awful. On the other hand, I am constantly coming up with new ideas for future Comic Con costumes, and I kind of love the idea of dressing up like this:
7. William Atherton is also pretty funny as the snide villain of the story. Whenever I see Atherton, I immediately think of Die Hard, and it’s becoming quite clear to me that smug is a good look on him, or at least an easy fit. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the man play someone nice. Likewise, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Jon Gries play anyone particularly normal. The Pretender might be the closest he ever got. Oh, The Pretender. Jon Gries, you will always be Broots to me.
8. There are a lot of awesome quotes and bits of dialogue to choose from, but here are some of my favorites:
Jordan: “Are you peeing?”
Mitch: “I can’t start.”
Jordan: “Because I’m here?”
Mitch: “I think so.”
Jordan: “Weird. Well, I have to go.”
Mitch: “Me too.”
Chris: “Jerry, if you think that by threatening me, you can get me to be your slave . . . well, that’s where you’re right. But—and I’m only saying this because I care—there are a lot of decaffeinated brands on the market today that are just as tasty as the real thing.”
Hathaway: “You still run?”
Chris: “Only when chased.”
. . . and probably my favorite quote of all time right now . . .
Mitch: “What are you doing?”
Chris: “Self-realization. I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, ‘ . . . I drank what?'”
9. I don’t want to spoil anything for people who, like me, are also 25 years late in seeing this movie, but the microphone Jesus scene might be the funniest thing in the whole film. I was dying.
10. Finally, after watching this movie, I kind of wish I had a better appreciation for popcorn. Alas! If only it didn’t get stuck in my teeth so easily!
Maybe it’s just because I haven’t watched a totally silly movie in awhile, but Real Genius was one of the most enjoyable films I think I’ve watched all year. I really didn’t find any flaws with it, and I thought Val Kilmer was great, sort of like a predecessor to Ryan Reynolds in Van Wilder.
All work and no play makes a science nerd a dull boy, and by dull, of course, I mean crazy, like living in a closet, sporting bad hair and offering people your pajamas crazy.
Also, don’t assassinate people. It’s not nice.