Real Genius (1985)

PG   |    |  Comedy, Romance, Sci-Fi

Real Genius (1985) Poster

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.




  • Patti D'Arbanville and Jon Gries in Real Genius (1985)
  • Val Kilmer in Real Genius (1985)
  • Val Kilmer in Real Genius (1985)
  • Patti D'Arbanville and Jon Gries in Real Genius (1985)
  • Val Kilmer in Real Genius (1985)
  • Val Kilmer and Gabriel Jarret in Real Genius (1985)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

3 November 2001 | thirdi
| One of the all time best 80's college movies
Val Kilmer is hilarious as a college genius on par with Einstein, but is more interested in partying and chasing girls. A new arrival to the campus, Mitch, is a brilliant 15 year-old whom Val takes under his wing and tries to get to loosen up and have a good time.

There are probably some important themes and ideas to analyze within this movie, but for me it's just an old-school personal favorite that I've seen about 100 times. Great 80's music soundtrack and funny performances. William Atherton is perfect as the self-important, snobby professor, and another highlight is Robert Prescott, who plays his butt-kissing, nerdy assistant "Kent".

A movie that asks the question, isn't life experience just as important for education, as classrooms and books? A very funny, fine film that is up there with "Animal House" in my opinion.

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Did You Know?


All of the laser technology in Real Genius (1985) was the real thing, sponsored by Professor Martin Gundersen of the University of Southern California (USC). Gundersen's credentials included a stint with the Los Alamos National Laboratory where he attempted to develop an infrared laser which would separate uranium without conventional problems of "nuclear waste". A laser, explains Gundersen, is a mechanism in which light waves are focused through gaseous or other matter, then emitted as a narrow, intense beam. Starting with the invention of the "maser" (an early microwave version) at Columbia University in the 1950s, for which Professor Charles Townes would win the Nobel Prize, "laser technology went off in several different directions," Gundersen added. At the time this film was made, lasers were being used in medicine to weld detached retinas; in communications, coupled with fibreoptics to carry information over telephone lines; in video recordings with laser discs (later to evolve into DVDs); in energy conservation, and in other fields. Their military application, anticipated by science fiction, as has often been the case, had recently become the subject of intense study, and controversy. The lab scenes in Real Genius (1985) employ two sophisticated lasers, a blue-green argon laser and a tuneable dye laser which work in tandem. "The dye is mixed with liquid and flowed in front of the Argon laser, which in technical terms, 'excites' it," said Gundersen. The dye laser then emits a beam of light which can be turned to virtually any color by turning a knob, like fine tuning a television set.


Chris Knight: If you want to leave, go ahead. But, uh... you're going to miss the fun.
Mitch: What fun?
Chris Knight: Ick invented a new virus and we're going to release it in Kent's room.


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.

Alternate Versions

An edited version of Real Genius has appeared on American television. Some of the language has been altered, for instance "penis" to "pinkie", "bastard" to "bonehead", and "Jesus" to "God". Also, instead of the children playing in the popcorn as the final credits roll, we see a long-distance high-angle shot of the Professor's house as he comes home and discovers the popcorn.


You're the Only Love
Performed by
Paul Hyde and the Payolas
Courtesy of A&M Records


Plot Summary

Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Comedy | Romance | Sci-Fi

Box Office


$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,557,180 11 August 1985

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:


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