Real Genius: The Appreciation Thread

Although released in the middle of a glut of forgettable Eighties science-y teen comedies, Real Genius has really held up quite well. From Val Kilmer’s bouffant-sporting ubernerd-cum-class clown to Michelle Meyrink’s hyperactive dream-inducing geek-girl Jordan, and of course William Atherton in a classic “Asshole!” role as the professor who is deluding his team (which, oddly, seems to be constituted entirely of senior undergraduates) into believing they’re working on an academic research project while surrepitously contracting with some shadowy cigar-smoking CIA backroom technocrats to build a secret, SDI-like orbital laser weapon capable of “vaporizing a human target from space”, this is a brilliant film.

Although clearly not filmed at Caltech (most principal exteriors appear to have been done at the nearby Claremont schools, which is amusing given the longstanding Caltech/Harvey Mudd rivalry), the fictional Pacific Tech is clearly intended as a stand-in for Califorina Instutite of Technology, and various 'Techisms (“purple tapioca”, the finals week “Decompression Chamber” and “Tanning Invitational”, the “hyperspace” between house walls, references to DEI all over the place) are clearly made to reinforce this notion. (The tech advisor on the film, a CalTech alumnus, walks past the protagonists as they are gassing Kent’s room.) Unlike most 'Eighties comedies which have aged badly–Weird Science doesn’t play well even as kitch, and My Science Project was never a good film to begin with–this stands up pretty well today, and it doesn’t hurt that the terminology and technology described in the film–while sometimes exaggerated for dramatic or comedic effect–was technically accurate and in current use as of the production of the film.

Kilmer stopped doing comedy after this (unless you consider his abbreviated tenure as Batman to be high camp), instead taking on a string of minimally emotive dramatic rolls that were mostly pretty indifferent until the 2005 Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, clearly indicating that he should devote himself more to humor. The kid who plays genius child Mitch Taylor pretty much disappeared–his largest role since was an anonymous flight controller in Apollo 13–but he’s actually well-suited to this role, looking and sounding like an authentic science nerd instead of some overaged teen heartthrob with horn-rimmed glasses and a few dabbed-on fake zits trying to stretch his mouth around four syllable words. And Jon Gries as Lazlo Hollyfeld is awesome. Even the music for the montage scenes–Eighties techno-pop that I usually find unbearable–is well chosen.

Highlights:[ul][li]The absurd opening filmstrip; “Just like shootin’ ducks in a barrel!”; “Working in secret, our scientists are turning a engineering dream into an effective reality.”[]“Compared to you, most people have the I.Q. of a carrot.”[]“Old Professer Hostetler? Isn’t he dead?” “sigh He is now.”[]“That’s a wonderful story, Brodie. I’ve noticed you’ve stopped studying.” “I’ve been giving myself shock treatments.” “Up the voltage.”[]“Do you want a cherry? I grow them myself.”[]“I just hope we can keep it from exploding!”[]Surf Nicaragua[]“Is that popcorn? I hate popcorn…get it away from me.” “Now I know what to get you for your birthday.”[]“But–and I’m only saying this because I care–there are a lot of decaffinated brands on the market that are just as tasty as the real thing.”[]“They’re from the Wanda Dressler School of Beauty!”[]That stupid yellow Citroen that Kent drives.[]“You must get even with Kent. It’s a moral imparitive!”[]“You know you’re not supposed to park your car on campus, Kent.”[]“Put simply, in deference to you, Kent, it’s like lasing a stick of dynamite.”[]Notice the van: Drain Experts Incorporated.[]Jiffy Pop, Neighborhood Size.[]“What have you done?” “My house!”[]“I think we used too much.”[]“I won! 31.8% of the prizes, though. I’ll have to figure that out.”Popcorn for eveyrone![/ul][/li]
Why can’t they make movies like this? Smart, funny, lacking in scatological humor and gross-out comedy? Anyway, a great film.


“Can you hammer a six inch spike through a board with your penis?”

“Not right now.”

I don’t remember who that actress was, but she was the quintessential 80’s hottie.

“Yeah well, you’ll rue the day!”
“‘Rue the day?’ Who talks like that?”

I watched this movie so much when I was a kid in the 80s. One of my favorite films.

That was the lovely Deborah Foreman (from Valley Girls). I thought she was smokin’ hot. But I have a thing for women with great smiles.

And from now on, stop playing with yourself!

…It is God.

“A girl’s gotta have her standards.”

That would be “Valley Girl” Deborah Foreman.

Great movie. Holds up well, although Val Kilmer occasionally grates on me while I’m watching. I just want to say, “Val, we get it, dial back the smart-ass on a couple of lines.”

I saw this in the theatre one day when the family had to leave the house for an Open House. When I returned home I discovered that one of the Open Housers had stolen my favorite pair of sunglasses.

Young, hot, supergenius Val Kilmer…mmmmm far off look

A favorite Jordan quote:
Are you okay?
No! Not emotionally! It should have gone much further, much faster!

Also, the song “One Night Love Affair,” played during the Tanning Invitational, is a true 80s classic.

You forgot the rest of the quote:
“You mean they’re beauticians!?”
“Not yet!”

Every time I hear someone use the figurative expression “let’s take a step back” I have to finish out the next lines (sometimes in my head, sometimes out loud).

In the immortal words of Socrates, “I drank what?”

And I’m proud to say that I’ve used the following in actual conversation:

“It’s a moral imperative! Ah-HA-HA-HA-Ha!”

“What kind of a guy puts his name on his license plate?”
“My mother does that with my underwear.”
“Your mother puts license plates in your underwear? How do you sit?”


“This? This is ice. This is what happens to water when it gets too cold. This? This is Kent. This is what happens to people when they get too sexually frustrated.”

[QUOTE=Stranger On A Train]
[li]“That’s a wonderful story, Brodie. I’ve noticed you’ve stopped studying.” “I’ve been giving myself shock treatments.” "Up the voltage.[/li][/QUOTE]

nitpick I believe he says, ‘stuttering’.

Yeah, I watched this movie over and over and it made me want to go to college. We should have a movie night in my house and show it…

Uh, yeah…my typo, not mondegreen.


I’m putting it on my Netflix queue. OK Stranger, which character is you?

I have this t-shirt. The one Chris Knight is wearing when he goes to his “interview” in the beginning of the movie.

Needless to say this is one of my favorite movies.

“You’re laborers. You should be laboring. That’s what you get for not having an education”

“Sir, let me take this moment to compliment you on your fashion sense, particularly your slippers.”

“You’re all a bunch of degenerates.
We are? What about that time I found you naked with that bowl of Jell-O?
You did not.
This is true.
Look, it was hot and I was hungry, okay?”

“Do You want to borrow my pajamas?”

“I didn’t want you guys to think I was stuffy. You know, no fun. All brain, no penis.”


Now I am going to put the DVD in and watch the movie.

I had a friend in high school who was inspired by that movie - he dropped the nerd life and spent his senior year partying.

The following year he flunked out of Berkeley.

At the pool party with the beauticians. I mean, student beauticians:
Mitch: Why aren’t you … you know …?

Jordan: Making out? I’M NOT GAY!


“Smart People on Ice”

Have you ever seen a body like this before in your life?
She happens to be my daughter.
Oh. Then I guess you have.

Do you mind if I name my first child after you? “Dipshit Knight” has a nice ring to it.

We plan this thing for weeks and all they want to do is study. I’m disgusted. I’m sorry but it’s not like me, I’m depressed. There was what, no one at the mutant hamster races, we only had one entry into the Madame Curie look-alike contest and he was disqualified later. Why do I bother?

When you first started at Pacific Tech you were well on your way to becoming another Einstein and then you know what happened?
I got a haircut?

I never sleep, I don’t know why. I had a roommate and I drove her nuts, I mean really nuts, they had to take her away in an ambulance and everything. But she’s okay now, but she had to transfer to an easier school, but I don’t know if that had anything to do with being my fault.

I want to see more of you around the lab.
Fine. I’ll gain weight.

Are you peeing?
Uh, I can’t start.
Because I’m here?
I think so.
Weird. Well I have to go.
Me too.

You know, um, something strange happened to me this morning…
Was it a dream where you see yourself standing in sort of sun-god robes on a pyramid with a thousand naked women screaming and throwing little pickles at you?
Why am I the only one who has that dream?

If you think that by threatening me you can get me to do what you want… Well, that’s where you’re right.

You see Mitch, I used to be you. And lately I’ve been missing me so I asked Dr. Hathaway if I could room with me again and he said sure.

You are Chris Knight, aren’t you?
I hope so. I’m wearing his underwear.

I’m definitely Mitch, if not one of the background nerds. I aspire to be Lazlo, though…I just need to find a good steam tunnel to live in and start entering prize contests.


“You haven’t taken me to meet your parents. Are you ashamed of me?”
“No, of them.”

I need to watch it again. I had the MIT version of the experience, but it was fairly close. I don’t know if CalTech created ice, but some people at my old dorm convinced Boston TV news that they had created snow in the showers one winter day.

It’s a great movie, and all so true. And one prediction that more or less came true - isn’t putting lecture notes on the net, with video, more or less the same as a class of tape recorders recording the lecture of another tape recorder? A great running gag.

The professor reminds me of an evil Carl Sagan, with his TV program “Everything.”

And they got the need to get physical access to hack a circuit board right. What other movie ever did?