There are very few movies that celebrate the power of geekdom. Sure there is the Revenge of the Nerds trilogy, but in it the brains are portrayed more or less as total losers desperate to be something cooler. Real Genius is an unbelievably excellent movie that highlights the awesomeness of vast brain power, and its potential for changing the world and playing some really excellent pranks at the same time. Plus, it is the perfect 80s film!
The film tells the story of high school prodigy name Mitch Taylor (Gabriel Jarret), who is plucked from the doldrums of high school by one of the leading minds at Pacific Tech University, Dr. Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton), who just happens to be a total jackass. He puts together a team of the best and brightest minds at the university (Mitch included) to build the most powerful laser ever created, but what he doesn’t tell them is that they are building an assassination weapon for the most evil men in the military!
Mitch’s roommate is former science king Chris Knight (Val Kilmer), a reformed geek who has come to terms with the fact that overwhelming brainpower will only lead to misery if life is purely academic; he has seen the light of fun, learned the language of flirtation, and is dedicated to sharing the message of life’s potential with his fellow CalTech nerds.
After a series of 80s pranks leave Chris in the hot seat he is threatened with being booted from the school unless he can solve the impossible problem of the laser. When he and Mitch put their real genius to work – surprise surprise – they figure out how to build the super laser, but they soon realize that the laser is actually going to be used as a weapon for the military and their brains have been used for evil purposes. What are a group of nerds to do? Outsmart the bad guys of course, and they do it with the greatest of style!
If you’ve seen this movie before, watch it again! And if you’ve never had the pleasure of watching Real Genius, treat yourself to some perfect 80s good versus evil nerdiness.