Earlier today, for reasons I won’t bore you with, I was trying to think of a good movie Val Kilmer had been in. I failed in my task, and I’d hazard a guess that, even if you put 30 minutes aside, you would too. So I’m turning to 'Real Genius' because when I was 7, a girl said something in this movie that made me laugh for 10 minutes straight. Maybe, just maybe, ‘Real Genius’ isn’t as shit as all of Val Kilmer’s other movies.
1. Somebody in a spaceship just shot at a human male sitting on a wicker chair (because '80s) on Earth and incinerated him.
In the '80s, people thought you had to go to space to do drone shit. So quaint.
2. A guy named Don is sitting on a government panel explaining that the energy source for this weapon has some problems. “So long as we have a working weapon by the end of June,” one government dude says. Don says he'll get onto someone named Dr. Hathaway to iron out the final issues.
3. Some nerd named Mitch is talking about lasers and getting offered a University scholarship by Dr. Hathaway, who is suave and evil. We can make this assumption because the guy playing Dr. H was also a bad guy in 'Ghostbusters' and 'Die Hard'. None of this means anything to me right now though, because Mitch is the goddamn image of a young Sarah Jessica Parker to a degree that is blowing my mind. The only thing separating these two is a wig and some eyeliner. See?
4. Dr. Hathaway talks down to Mitch’s parents and treats them like idiots. Mitch apologizes for how dumb they are. Then they have the following exchange: Dr. H: “So tell me, Mitch, are you going to miss your friends?” Mitch: “Well no. I think I intimidate other kids.” Dr. H is supposed to be a villain, Mitch. What’s your excuse for being such an arrogant dickwad?
5. Dr. H tells Mitch he’s going to put him on his own special research team “with some of the finest minds at the campus” and that “he’s only ever done that once before.” “Yes,” Mitch nods. “For Chris Knight. He’s a legend at the National Physics Club!” “You will be working directly with Chris and he’s as brilliant as he ever was.” $10 says Chris Knight is Val Kilmer.
6. Val Kilmer is wearing colorful sneakers, an ‘I Heart Toxic Waste’ T-shirt and silver deely boppers (see below photo if you were not alive in the '80s and don't know what those words mean), thereby letting us know that Chris Knight is WACKY. Le sigh:
7. Mitch is a 15-year-old who wears a suit everywhere he goes. I want to punch Mitch in the face.
8. Mitch arrives at his dorm room (where Chris already lives) where there are two large fish being kept inside a water cooler. These geniuses are fucking assholes. I am wondering how many fish died during the making of 'Real Genius'.
9. A strange longhaired man with a paper bag - we’ll call him Creepin’ Jesus on account of that's what my mum used to call our weird next door neighbor - walks past Mitch, walks into his wardrobe door and then disappears. When Mitch turns around, Chris is suddenly in the room and asks “Would you be prepared if gravity reversed itself?” He is doing a handstand when he asks this because THESE KIDS ARE FUCKING INSUFFERABLE.
10. Outside the college campus, a statue has been decorated with a beanie and skis. It’s not a plot point, it’s just put there to establish the tone at the University. What I’m getting from it is: These kids are so privileged they can give away expensive sporting equipment to a statue as a prank and actually think it’s worth it because they’re too rich to be funny in real life. Just wanna be clear on the degree of asshole attending this school.
11. Dr. H sends Mitch to go up to a lab to assist 3 senior students (the main one is called Kent) who are “stuck.” When Mitch arrives, they talk down to him because they think he is delivering sandwiches. FOOD DELIVERY SCUM!
12. Everyone at this school is fucking male, because YOU NEED A PENIS TO BE GOOD AT SCIENCE.
13. Mitch leaves his and Chris’s dorm room and immediately trips over into a massive pile of ice. There is excellent, synthesizer-based '80s music playing. When Mitch looks up, a group of people are ice-skating in the corridor. Chris is wearing panda ear muffs and declares: “Welcome to Pacific Tech’s Smart People on Ice!” In the great words of Kendrick Lamar, “Bitch. Sit down. Be humble.”
14. Token girl - her name is Jordan - toboggans down some stairs, then talks really fast, thereby indicating that she is SMART. She has Swing Out Sister hair. If you don't know what Swing Out Sister is, you should brush up on your '80s music knowledge. But here's a side-by-side for clarity.
15. Everyone in this school carries goggles everywhere and only uses them when they don’t actually need them. WHY DO THEY RIP THEM OFF EVERY TIME SOMETHING EXPLODES?!
16. Chris’s personality seems to be entirely accessory-based. Yes, yes, fluffy slippers, chef's hat. WE GET IT. YOU'RE WACKY.
17. Study montage! It’s soundtracked by this song because it has the word "reaction" in it and that's sciencey AF.
18. This is the kind of school where people build really large contraptions to do things they’re perfectly capable of doing with their own human bodies. For example, Jordan has built a gigantic wheely book holder thing that turns its own pages, via the power of magnets. You have to stand up in order to use it. How is this better than sitting down and using your hands?
19. Mitch’s lecture hall is full of massive boom boxes recording the teacher.
The '80s were so cute, you guys.
20. At some point in this montage, Mitch stopped wearing his suit. Now he looks like this instead:
21. Mitch discovers that if he climbs in the wardrobe and closes the door behind him, there is a door that opens, a small elevator down a long shaft and a relatively elaborate buggy ride, complete with rats and cobwebs and no discernable way out for Creepin' Jesus who lives down there. THESE KIDS WILL LIVE IN ELABORATE SHITHOLES TO PROVE HOW SMART THEY ARE AND I HATE THEM.
22. Chris goes to see Dr. H. Chris has a bag of popcorn. “Get it away from me, put it over there,” Dr. H says. “I can’t stand popcorn.” PLOT FOR LATER.
23. Dr. H tells Chris: “I don’t care if you’re arrogant. I don’t care if you’re disrespectful.” Yes, nobody calls them on their bullshit at all! That's why they're pricks. You're a shit teacher, Dr. H.
24. Mitch is trying to solve laser problems, so, instead of helping, Chris creates a laser beam that turns off all of the power in the school and leads them to a party full of women wearing swimsuits and matching heels. There is also an oversized paddling pool in the room. That style of footwear with that particular party novelty seems like a terrible combo to me.
25. The swimsuit ladies are BEAUTICIANS. This point is labored because smart women are not pretty, and pretty women aren’t smart. MEN DO SCIENCE, WOMEN DO NAILS.
26. “These women aren’t used to geniuses,” Chris tells his classmates. “You might impress them. This might be the only opportunity in your entire lives to have sex.” Have I told you lately how much I hate all of these kids?
27. Blonde woman in bikini goes and grabs burger. “Don’t eat that!” Chris demands. “Don’t you know that eating that stuff can give you very large breasts? Oh no! I’m too late!” Blonde bikini lady laughs loudly and leaves with him because BEAUTICIANS LOVE HAVING THEIR BOOBS TALKED ABOUT.
28. “One Night Love Affair” by Bryan “Not Ryan” Adams is playing. Best thing that’s happened in 42 minutes and I don't even like this song.
29. Mitch is ignoring all of the beauticians, and smiles when Jordan arrives with SCUBA equipment… is the greatest sentence I will ever write.
Here's a visual:
30. Kent and flunkies record Mitch crying on the phone to his mother, saying he wants to go home. They broadcast it in the cafeteria the next day. I feel like this is one of the 12 things that could've been cut from this movie in order to make it a normal length.
31. Creepin' Jesus’s name is Lazlo Hollyfeld. “He used to be the number one stud around here in the '70s." Chris tells Mitch. (STUD?!) "Smarter than you and me put together. He cracked, severely. He loved his work. All science, no philosophy.” Yeah. Maybe if he got a chef's hat and some deely boppers, he'd be fine.
32. These geniuses must really be geniuses because, by way of revenge for the phone stunt, they put Kent’s car into his dorm room. Which is an actual physical impossibility without removing a wall. I hate this movie.
33. Government guys are at Dr. H’s house pressuring him to get the weapon tech fixed. Chris shows up and runs into the daughter of one of the suits. She looks like Laura Palmer from 'Twin Peaks'. As the suits are leaving, Chris asks the room full of old men, “Have you ever seen a body like this before in your life?” One of them says: “She happens to be my daughter.” Chris responds: “Oh. Well, then I guess you have.” Woah, sexual predator. Woah!!
34. The following exchange then takes place: Chris: “Seriously. If there’s ever anything I can do for you. Or… more to the point TO you, please let me know.” Susan: "Can you hammer a six-inch spike through a board with your penis?” WHAT IS THIS MOVIE???
35. Dr. H tells Chris that he is kicked out of school (for reasons unrelated to the sexual predator stuff) and “will never work in this field again.” Not sure what this scene is for, since Chris just stays in school anyway. WHY DID NOBODY EDIT THIS MOVIE?
36. ANOTHER study montage. Good fucking Lord.
37. Mitch gets home and there is what appears to be a 30-year-old woman in his room. She asks his name and tells him she’s been “waiting three years” until he was “old enough.” UM. Was the age of consent ever 15 in America? And who is this creepy broad?!
38. Mitch (15-year-old weed) goes and tells Jordan (attractive 19-year-old woman) that he didn’t bone the random lady in his room because he wants to bone her instead. She smiles and then commits a felony. THIS MOVIE IS FUCKING GRIM.
40. Chris leaves an apple on the desk of his teacher. The teacher drops it into a trash can and it explodes. So if he had bitten the apple, his face would have been burned off? I’ll ask again: WHAT KIND OF MOVIE IS THIS??
41. Chris solves the laser problem. Blah, blah, blah, PLOT.
42. Creepin' Jesus/ Lazlo figures out that the kids just built a weapon that could “vaporize a human from space.” So naturally, their response is to gas Kent and turn his braces into an antenna, so THEY CAN TALK TO HIM AND PRETEND TO BE JESUS. Everyone in this movie is a fucking psychopath.
43. This film is unbelievably fucking long. 2 hours. TWO HOURS! You go see a horror film like ‘Hereditary’ now, and everyone’s like “DUDE! Why is it so long? 2 hours! Are you kidding?” Yeah, well, back in 1985, ‘Real Genius’ went on for 2 hours and no one said a goddamn thing. Probably. Maybe.
44. Chris and Mitch break into a military base via the medium of fake mustaches and blue lab coats.
This film was definitely made pre-9/11.
45. Everyone jumps over fences a lot in this movie. THE GATE IS RIGHT THERE, ASSHOLES.
46. The kids have rigged the laser to fire into a giant popcorn bowl in Dr. H’s house. There is so much popcorn, the house basically falls down. How much government money just got wasted on this stunt?
47. Lazlo shows up. He’s marrying the science groupie who tried to seduce Mitch earlier and they’re moving to a bunker in Montana. Awesome. Can this be over now?
48. Oh, it is. Thank Christ for that. Only… How does this solve the weapons problem? Did no one in the government write down the instructions before they tested the laser?
49. The kids still made a weapon that can fry people from space, and I still can't remember what Jordan said that 7-year-old me loved so much, but the popcorn is supposed to distract us. K. Byeee.