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Real Genius (DVD) Review
The breakout film for Val Kilmer's career, Real Genius is one of the first films to portray the "nerd" as someone cool rather than as the taped-glasses, plaid pants cliché that dominated most of the 1980s. Evolving over time into a cult classic, this can be classified as more of a generational film. Most of the people I know who grew up in the 1980s have seen it. As such, it meets the criteria to be defined as a must see movie.
When fourteen-year-old Mitch Taylor (Gabriel Jarret) receives entrance into a highly prestigious college program at Pacific Tech, he's put to work by his mentor Professor Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton) on a highly experimental and difficult project - the development of a specific type of laser. But Mitch's studies are hindered by his more laid back roommate, Chris Knight (Val Kilmer), who would rather use his genius brain to have fun rather than be used by people. Explaining that he used to be just like Mitch, he one day learned that you can't through all of life with your nose in a book.
Garnering great influence with Mitch, Chris and the rest of the students engage in some crafty shenanigans (such as turning the dorm room floor to ice - ice that turns from solid to liquid). But Chris and Mitch are foiled by the Prof. Hathaway kiss-up, loser Kent Torokvei (Robert Prescott) who is always shadowing their activities and telling Hathaway. When Mitch meets up with Jordan (Michelle Meyrink) at an auditorium where the orchestra pit has been turned into a pool, the two develop a romance. But the party is crashed by Hathaway who threatens to send Mitch home.
With the military applying pressure on Hathaway to complete the laser project, he threatens to fail Chris. With Chris and Mitch working around the clock, the project makes great progress. But the team has to enlist the help of Lazlo Hollyfeld (Jon Gries), an eccentric former student who lives in their closet, before they make the breakthrough discovery that gives them an operational laser.
Celebrating out on the town, the team ponders the implications of the laser they have created. Realizing that it will be used for assassinations, they run back to lab only to find the laser missing. When they unleash a plan to get revenge on Prof. Hathaway, Kent and the professor's house become part of a great popcorn experiment.
Rife with a number of hilarious scenes, one of the more hilarious is when Mitch, Chris, Jordan, and their friend Ick gas Kent and insert a microphone in his mouth. They then speak to Kent, pretending to be God. The entire movie is worth that scene alone, but there are countless others in this popular teen classic. If you like clever comedy, Real Genius is one film that can't miss.
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