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Real Genius (1985)

Teenage geniuses deal with their abilities while developing a high-powered laser for a university project. When their professor intends to turn their work into a military weapon, they decide to ruin his plans.

Director:

Martha Coolidge

Writers:

Neal Israel (screenplay), Neal Israel (story) | 3 more credits »
2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Val Kilmer ... Chris Knight
Gabriel Jarret ... Mitch Taylor (as Gabe Jarret)
Michelle Meyrink ... Jordan Cochran
William Atherton ... Prof. Jerry Hathaway
Jon Gries ... Lazlo Hollyfeld (as Jonathan Gries)
Patti D'Arbanville ... Sherry Nugil
Stacy Peralta ... Shuttle Pilot
Daniel Ades Daniel Ades ... Laser Ray Victim
Andres Aybar Andres Aybar ... Bartender
Louis Giambalvo ... Major Carnagle
Ed Lauter ... David Decker
Charles Shull Charles Shull ... Air Force General
Beau Billingslea ... George
Charles Parks Charles Parks ... Larry
Sean Frye ... Boy at Science Fair
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Storyline

Mitch Taylor is one of the youngest students ever accepted to a university known for its programs for geniuses. He partners up with his roommate, science club legend Chris Knight, on a project to develop a high-powered laser. Together with their hyperkinetic friends, they employ their intellects in the pursuit of bigger blasts, practical jokes, and a deeper understanding of what real genius means. When they find out that their professor intends to turn their work over to the military for use as a weapon, they decide to get even. Written by Lordship <lordship@juno.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It's yet another in a long series of diversions in an attempt to avoid responsibility. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Romance | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 August 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Real Genius See more »

Filming Locations:

Claremont, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,557,180, 11 August 1985

Gross USA:

$12,952,019

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$12,952,019
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Delphi III Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

While the mythical Tech task force was absorbed in laser science, for purposes of the script, the filmmakers were grappling with their own technological problems. That exercise began in Laslo Hollyfeld (Jon Gries)'s lair in the steam tunnels beneath the dorm. After several reconnaissance trips to the Cal Tech campus, production designer 'Josan Russo', special effects coordinator Phil Cory, and their respective staff, proceeded to create Hollyfeld's hideaway at the Hollywood Center Studios. Russo said: "The multi-directional elevator which takes him to his den was the first challenge". When completed, it consisted of a car, controlled by a rotating screw, which descended through an elevator shaft to a turntable. At that point, it met a horizontal track and a hidden drive-chain, like those used to operate roller coasters. At the end of the track, another rotating screw took over, plunging the car into the dorm's lower depths.There, the filmmakers created a slew of gadgets, mirroring the mind of a troubled genius who'd opted out of society, but had not rejected creature comforts. Typical was a toaster which not only browned the bread but sprayed on a stream of melted butter and jelly, and a quixotic coffee brewer, which operated on a microwave principle. The piece de resistance was the automated "scribbler" which enabled Hollyfeld to submit one-million, six-hundred- thousand separate entries to the Frito-Lay Sweepstakes, creating a mathematical probability of winning 32.6% of the prizes, including the car. See more »

Goofs

In the scene where Chris confronts Mitch about wanting to leave, right after he says, "If you want to leave," you see Chris' mouth move, but the sounds "go ahead" happen after he turns away. See more »

Quotes

Mitch: But if I stay, what should I do?
Chris Knight: You get even with Kent. It's a moral imperative.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The UK theatrical and video versions were censored for a 15 certificate:
  • The line, "Can you hammer a six-inch nail through a board with your penis?" was removed.
The 2002 DVD is uncut. See more »

Connections

References Sleeper (1973) See more »

Soundtracks

Everybody Wants to Rule the World
Written by Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley and Chris Hughes
Performed by Tears for Fears
Courtesy of Phonogram, Limited
See more »

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User Reviews

 
More than just a guilty pleasure of a movie . . .
18 July 2001 | by AldanoliSee all my reviews

Siskel and Ebert once ran a special show entitled "Movies I'm Embarrassed to Admit I Liked." I suppose that if I composed such a list of guilty pleasures, this one would be one of them . . . but upon reflection, it's really a lot better than that. Fifteen year-old science prodigy Mitch (Gabe Jarret) is recruited by ambitious college professor Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton, in yet another of his patented roles as a loathsome character) to work on the professor's prize laser project, not knowing that Hathaway is really developing a government weapon. Along the way, Mitch is mentored by Chris (Val Kilmer), another prodigy a few years his senior who teaches Mitch how to loosen up.

This could have degenerated into nothing more than just another teen revenge comedy, but there's so much more: the dialogue is laced with sharp wit; there are some lovely scenes that have nothing to do with the story yet are carefully set up, almost as blackouts (e.g., Mitch goes to a lecture at which a few students have left tape recorders instead of attending; later, at another lecture there are more tape recorders than students; and, in a final scene, one large tape recorder gives the lecture to a room populated by nothing but other small recorders!); and throw-away scenes that make you want to stop and back up the story to watch again (e.g., Chris off-handedly cutting a slice off a bar of dry ice to make a slug for the coffee machine).

It's also one of the few movies to boast the presence of the memorable Michelle Meyrink -- as Jordan, the "girl-nerd" who made being smart and female (and still quite sexy) something to emulate. And there's Tears for Fears' great song, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" providing the perfect coda as the closing credits begin to roll . . . . Yes: really now, what's there to be embarrassed about?


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