Real Genius Movie Review

Real Genius

It's yet another in a long series of diversions in an attempt to avoid responsibility.
Real Genius Picture
Val Kilmer stars as "Chris Knight".


Val Kilmer, William Atherton, Deborah Foreman, Michelle Meyrink

Severn Darden, Jon Gries, Patti D'Arbanville, Stacy Peralta, Daniel Ades, Andres Aybar, Louis Giambalvo, Ed Lauter, Charles Shull, Gabriel Jarret Update Cast

Thanks to Kevin Allustiarti
The pranks found in this movie are all real pranks for which Caltech is notorious, such as the car inside the room and the ice that goes directly to gas in the halls. Other pranks pulled by the students at Caltech are getting cows upstairs (cows can go upstairs but not down for some reason) and turning a students room upside down, putting furniture and desks on the ceiling.

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Written by "Naked Gun" scribe Pat Proft and "Police Academy" alum Neal Isreal and directed by 80s veteran Martha Coolidge (Valley Girl), Real Genius is a classic 80s college comedy that actually accepts the fact that the students go to college. Unlike "Revenge of the Nerds", which gave us the bumbling, so-uncool-it-hurts genius of Robert Carradine's Lewis Skolnick, "Real Genius" introduces a hero you can truly get behind: the casual genius of Val Kilmer's Chris Knight.

Val Kilmer provides one of his best performances in this movie, playing Knight, a legendary college student, who avoided burning out on his work by goofing off. He takes the newest freshman, 15-year-old Mitch Taylor (Gabriel Jarret) under his wing and shows him that there is more to life than schoolwork.

There are two important parts to this movie that solidify it as an 80s classic. Under the geniuses at work-and-play plot, is a Cold War/Star Wars subplot involving underhanded government plans and a ruse led by their greedy professor (played by "Ghostbusters" baddie William Atherton). War and greed. How very 80s.

The other 80s characteristic is the "special forces" device. This idea, popular in films of this decade, was to gather a group of diverse characters (preferably various races), each with their own special skill that will help them as they battle a shared enemy. "Real Genius" features just such a group including Jordan (the cute female hyperkinetic), Ick (the Asian chemist) and Lazlo (the mad genius that lives in the steam tunnels).

This movie is a great 80s comedy, and may contain more quotable one-liners than any film in history, thanks mainly to Val Kilmer's terrific dead-pan delivery. Unfortunately, unless you have the laserdisc, you miss out on how good this movie truly is, as it was shot for widescreen by Vilmos Zsigmond, cinematographer on "The Deer Hunter" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". But even at that, the film is highly entertaining.

Author: Francis Rizzo IIIUpdate This Review


A true 80s classic. It is amazing how many quips from this movie remain in your head.

Wacky fun and funky!
Too silly for 'high brow' movie buffs.

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The Movie Data

Key Crew

Director: Martha Coolidge
Writer: Neal Israel, Pat Proft, Pat Proft, Peter Torokvei
Producers: Sam Crespi-Horowitz, Robert Daley, Brian Grazer
Locations Manager:

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Release Date: 07 Aug 1985
MPAA Rating: PG
Studio: Tristar Pictures
Production: Delphi III Productions
Genre: Comedy

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The Movie Trailer
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1985 Tristar Pictures
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