Previous Episodes of Sunday Cinema Reflections
Episode 2: Snowden
Episode 3: The Peaceful Warrior
Episode 4: They Live
Episode 5: Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land
Episode 6: The Big Short
Episode 7: A Bug's Life
Episode 8: Onward
Episode 9: Real Genius
Real Genius is a 1985 film, mostly fictional, but also based on a variety of real-life events. For example, one of the characters is mass producing entries into the Frito-Lay sweepstakes, which is based on a 1974 case of a bunch of Cal-Tech students managing to get about 1/5 of the entries into a McDonalds sweepstakes, winning thousands of dollars and a car.
The production of this movie included a team of scientists led by Professor Martin Gundersen of the University of Southern California, and all of the science except the popcorn stunt (which involved 190,000 pounds of popcorn) actually checks out.
Our story follows two young geniuses, Mitch (who has just gotten accepted at a young age to this Technical University) and Chris, who has been there for years, enjoying life and slacking off.
Between the difficulties of being a teenager at a college, the difficulties of being highly intelligent in a society designed to dumb people down as much as possible, and the difficulties of being a scientist in a system where most "science" is being funded by governments wanting to kill & control people... this movie packs every available second with comedy & antics.
The movie takes a semi-serious turn as the geniuses realize that their professor has been pushing them so hard to complete their project because it is actually a weapon he is contracted by the US government to build. Realizing that their work is going to be used for evil, they decide to take steps to ensure this doesn't happen.
Mitch Taylor: "What are you doing?"
Chris Knight: "Self-realization. I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said '...I drank what?'"
Chris Knight: "So, if there's anything I can do for you or, more to the point, to you just let me know.”
Susan Decker: "Can you hammer a six-inch spike through a board with your penis?”
Chris Knight: "Not right now.”
Susan Decker: "A girl's gotta have her standards.”
Why I Wanted to Share Real Genius
Somehow, I just saw this movie for the first time in late 2020, and I was rolling with laughter at various times, quite intrigued by the science, and moved by the underlying dilemma that the characters face (their "pure science" being used for malevolent ends.)
The characters are realistic, likeable, and geniuses. The writing is witty and smart. The bad guys are subtle, "normal," and not evil per se. Doing the research to write this article, I was also quite happy to see that the science of the movie actually checks out, and that this was a priority for the filmmakers.
I'd put this one right next to WarGames on my shelf... if I still had physical movies.
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