The year was 1985. Wearing socks was a faux pas and your sister was really into Prince’s Purple Rain. Martha Coolidge’s Real Genius was making the rounds with Hollywood’s power players and before long, Val Kilmer found himself attached as Chris Knight, genius. The rest, as they say, is cinema history.
Real Genius is the story of a 15-year-old whiz-kid, Mitch Taylor, accepted into a prestigious tech college to work under egotistical dickwad Dr. Hathaway. Along with his roommate, science club legend Chris Knight, Mitch begins work on a project to develop a high-powered laser. The duo is joined by Lazlo, a former boy genius who cracked from the pressure and moved into the steam tunnels beneath campus (accessed through Mitch’s closet). The three discover that their laser is destined for military use and it’s up to them to sabotage the weapons test. An elaborate prank is set up wherein Dr. Hathaway’s home is filled with popcorn kernels that are popped by the laser during the weapons test and hilarity ensues.
But it’s so much more than that. Real Genius goes beyond entertainment; it’s also educational. We could all learn something from Chris Knight, Mitch and Lazlo. I am even willing to say that besides being an ’80s classic (it’s got nerds who are somehow cool, chicks in bikinis, drinking, partying, precociousness, pranks, science and sexual innuendo), this movie, nay film, may contain the very answers we need to right the world in 2009.
Not one to back away from a challenge, these brainiacs go right to the crux of our problems and provide ways to bolster our struggling economy. Are you out of quarters? Chris Knight shows us how to make our own! All every household needs is a liquid nitrogen-lined thermos with a solid carbon-dioxide core. Next time you need to do laundry or cop some Funyuns out of the ol’ snack machine, just get your slice on. Machines are so dumb, they won’t know the difference. That’s right, people; it’s time to get fat off science!
As if that weren’t already good enough, Real Genius even addresses the growing homeless population. This film made me realize that far too many closets remain vacant today. All these people need is an elaborate cart system through the steam tunnels and/or sewer under your home that will take them to a secret lair. Once there, they can be put to work filling out no-purchase-necessary prize entries so we can all get rich. Lazlo was able to win 32 percent of the prizes in the Frito-Lay contest all by his lonesome. Think of the possibilities!
In addition to the economy, Real Genius pushes the envelope when it comes to science and technology. This movie has freakin’ lasers, damn it! Of course, the lasers are being built to vaporize targets from space, which may turn some of you off. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The laser can also be used to remove the face from your favorite statue or to burn the knots out of trees. Most importantly, this technology helps create a viable food source for starving Third World countries: popcorn! Each country could have its own giant foil ball full of popcorn kernels. All we would need is an orbiting laser with some sort of rotating mirror tracking system and voila: good eats!
If you scoff at the idea of feeding the world with popcorn, then maybe this will get your attention: global warming could be a thing of the past. Forget An Inconvenient Truth; these savvy college kids found the solution to melting polar ice caps over 20 years ago. In Real Genius, a young man named Ick freezes the entire dorm, allowing for ice skating and some hallway sledding. If we simply increased the scale of his experiment, the world could be a winter wonderland!
No other movie has addressed the economic, technological and environmental issues of our day as completely as Real Genius. Yeah, I see you counting off about five in your head, but those suck. They aren’t zany enough, their soundtracks are garbage and they don’t dig deep enough. They don’t even have a pool party scene! No”¦ they may be genius to some, but to me, there is only one Real Genius.
By Bocephus Chigger