The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes

The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes

Science has yet to find a way to merge a computer with the human brain, but that didn’t stop Disney from exploring the possibilities all the way back in 1969, in The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. Starring Kurt Russell as lovable student Dexter Riley, it was the first in a trilogy of films that would follow his adventures on the campus of fictional Medfield College (last seen in the 1961 film, The Absent Minded Professor).

Facing a lack of financial funding, it appears that the students of Medfield College are not going to get a spiffy new computer like the one found at the State campus, so they turn to private industry, The A.J. Arno company, who donates one of their old computers to the school.

What the school doesn’t know is that the corporation’s President (Cesar Romero) is involved in plenty of unscrupulous activities and the records of these dealings are all contained on the old computer. When the computer arrives at the campus, whiz-kid student Dexter Riley is given the task of hooking up the machinery and, in the process, receives an electrical shock, transmitting all of the information from the computer into his brain.

Dexter’s brain now has some serious supercomputing capabilities, including the ability to solve complex math problems, speak multiple foreign languages, and handle the most grueling college exams with ease. And with the college facing severe funding problems, it seems like a great idea to enter him in televised quiz competition, one that boasts a $100,000 grand prize.

As one might expect, Dexter proceeds to destroy his competitors in the tournament, until one of the questions somehow triggers Dexter to unwittingly announce all of the illegal information contained in the computer’s memory. Most of this goes over the public’s head, but a shocked A.J. Arno realizes that he must immediately put an end to Dexter and dispatches his henchmen to take care of the problem.

The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes was a surprising success for Disney, leading to two sequels, Now You See Him, Now You Don’t in 1972, and The Strongest Man in the World in 1975 – both of which reunited the film’s stars, Kurt Russell, Joe Flynn (as Dean Higgins) and beloved bad guy, Cesar Romero (The Joker from television’s Batman).

Disney remade The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes in a made-for television film in 1995 starring Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron, but it didn’t quite capture the charm of the original, which remains an endearing film, even if the technology is just a little out of date in today’s world.

Were you a fan of the original, or did you prefer the remake? We’d love to hear all of your thoughts about this live-action Disney classic in our comments section below.

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