Welcome to Redeeming Features. The blog where I (poorly) review movies that are underappreciated, underrated or under the radar, in hopes of convincing you to give them a second chance. Before we dive in, I have something to say to both my followers: I apologize for the lack of a post last week. I am a bad boy who doesn’t deserve you, and it won’t happen again. Hugs and kisses <3
Now that the past is behind us, let’s make like a catty ex and bring it back up again! For this week, we’re traveling back – far back – allllllll the way to 1985. I know, right? Were some of you even alive back then? Full disclosure: I was born in 1988, and this movie was born before me. So, I am baby, too. Goo goo, blah blah.
This week, we’re talking about a long-time staple in the ole Tidmore house: Real Genius, starring skinny Val Kilmer and literally nobody else that you’ll ever recognize ever again in any movie ever. Unless you count William Atherton, who plays the secondary antagonist in basically all of his films, which I do. (See: Ghostbusters, Die Hard, and Bio Dome [yep… Bio Dome.])
Real Genius is an irreverently intelligent little number, filled with everything from the most complex scientific jibber-jabber jargon to quite possibly some of the more poignant penis puns I’ve heard in my day. And despite the 1980s not bringing much to the table in terms of intelligent and commendable creativity, this seemingly childlike film does add a certain level of maturity to the otherwise belabored barrage of 1980s teen flicks. Although, it’s hard not to when your whole flick is about LASER PHYSICS.
*cue laser show and Y&T’s “Summertime Girls”*
That’s right, I said it – lasers. Otherwise known as Light Amplification by Simulated Emission or Radiation; another commonly accepted term would be “kickass light gun.” Lasawwws is what bwings us togevah today. Well, it’s what brings our whole plot together.
Real Genius takes place at Pacific Tech where our lead scientist, Jerry Hathaway (secondary antagonist guy), brings on 15-year-old Mitch Taylor (Gabriel Jarret) in hopes of wrangling an otherwise departed Chris Knight (skinny Val). Knight is set be dethroned as group leader once our young little whippersnapper takes the stage, but, as predictable movie plots are want to do, things don’t go quite the way Hathaway planned!
Knight, suffering from terminal senioritis, sees glints of his former enslaved self in Mitch’s little brown doe eyes, and sets out to exorcise the discipline demons using the Holy Bible for making overachieving nerds writhe in agony – shucking responsibility while simultaneously having a whole mess of fun.
In no time, the two become thick as thieves, stealing time away from their research to ice skate in the hallways and visit the Wanda Trussler’s School of Beauty annual swim party. (Read: boobs.)
But not everyone appears to be as fond of this newfound friendship. Amidst the conquest of profound perfunctory, someone attempts to make an example of the two by tampering with their laser, effectively ruining months of work. This creates a riff between our leading lads that they band together to overcome. And in the process, they uncover the true intended usage for their laser, which I assure you, is nothing short of sinister.
Unlike most 1980s flicks, navigating you through an endless sea of self-loathing and lowbrow humor, Real Genius keeps you engaged, enthralled, and intellectually elevated. Don’t get me wrong: there’s plenty of dumb humor to go around; I’m just saying this isn’t one for the “have a conversation while watching a movie” types.
So pop yo-self a big ole bag of popcorn and settle in, because as far as quick wit and affable characters go – Real Genius is reel genius.
TL; DR – two teen geniuses lead a group of scientists to develop a laser, only to find out their professor has different, dangerous intentions for their seemingly harmless university project.
Cody Tidmore is a Level Two sketch student at DCH. He’s been watching movies for as long as he can remember. Seeing it all – the good, the bad, even the ugly. And when it comes to annoyingly working movie quotes into regular conversation, he’s the reel deal.