Geeks and nerds the world over had plenty of reason to rejoice over the 1985 film, Real Genius. For once, the brainy characters were the stars, rather than some misfit outcasts injected into a plot for mere comic relief. As a result, this endearing movie about a group of highly intelligent teens has remained a favorite, even a cult classic, ever since the film was originally released.
Resident outcast, Mitch, has had enough of his regular high school. When he wins a science fair for a laser beam project, he catches the attention of Professor Hathaway who offers the teen a ticket out – to become a member of his carefully assembled elite team of brilliant overachievers at Pacific Tech University. At his new surroundings, Mitch finds a like-minded friend in Chris Knight, a prodigious student with a penchant for practical jokes. He also finds a girl that catches his eye, the adorably hyperactive Jordan and Mitch quickly realizes that he is no longer an outcast in the eyes of his geeky classmates.
Things turn less appealing when Mitch and Chris learn that their laser project is soon to be sold to the military as a deadly weapon and Hathaway intends to take all the credit for the invention. But trying to pull one over on a group of geniuses is a daunting and dangerous task and Hathaway is going to have his greedy hands full once Mitch and the gang plot their revenge.
Real Genius benefited not only from all the fascinating and flashy high-tech gadgets contained within but also from a stellar cast of likeable teens. Gabe Jarrett played the instantly likable Mitch, while Val Kilmer practically stole the film as the fun-loving Chris. Michelle Meyrink was perfect for the role of the friendly and eccentric Jordan, while Jonathan Gries captured the essence of former resident geek Laslo, now residing in the steam tunnels underneath the University.
Real Genius wasn’t exactly a blockbuster when initially released, although it managed to do respectable box office business. But in the years following, it has transformed from quirky teen flick into beloved cult classic, a film that finally gave the young brains of the world the recognition they deserved. If you count yourself among the fans of this film, we’d love to hear your recollections in our comments section.