Real Genius (1985) - Rotten Tomatoes

Real Genius (1985)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Martha Coolidge directed this comedy taking place at fictional Pacific Tech, concerning incoming freshman Mitch (Gabe Jarret), a high school student whose Science Fair project made important inroads into laser beam technology. Mitch has been recruited by famed physics professor Hathaway (William Atherton), who asks Mitch to work in his laboratory. On campus, Mitch becomes roommates with the brilliant Chris Knight (Val Kilmer), legendary as the smartest freshman in the history of the college; but now, as a senior, he is less interested in his studies and more interested in having fun. It turns out that Hathaway is enlisting his students, unbeknownst to them, as a slave labor force to do research in developing a state-of-the-art laser device for the Defense Department (he uses his government grant funds to build a house). But Chris and Mitch begin to suspect that something is amiss with Hathaway's project.more
Rating: PG (adult situations/language)
Genre: Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Neal Israel, Pat Proft, Peter Torokvei, Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 11, 2002
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


Val Kilmer
as Chris Knight
Gabe Jarret
as Mitch Taylor
William Atherton
as Prof. Jerry Hathaway
Patti D'Arbanville
as Sherry Nugil
Louis Giambalvo
as Maj. Carnagle
Ed Lauter
as CIA Man Decker
Jon Gries
as Lazlo Hollyfeld
Mark Kamiyama
as `Ick' Ikagami
Dan Ades
as Laser Ray Victim
Joanne Baron
as Mrs. Taylor
Paul Tulley
as Mr. Taylor
Charles Shull
as Air Force General
Chip Johnson
as Darlington Recruiter
Sandy Martin
as Mrs. Meredith
Joe Dorsey
as Congressman
Jo Ann Willette
as Girl at Science Fair
Lynda Wiesmeier
as Chris' Girl at Party
Marii Mak
as Girls at Party
Monte Landis
as Dr. Dodd
Catherine McNamara
as Girls at Party
Cheri Wells
as Girls at Party
Isabelle Walker
as Girls at Party
Penny Baker
as Ick's Girl at Party
Corki Grazer
as Air Force Sergeant
Marcia Karr
as Cornell's Girl at Pa...
Severn Darden
as Dr. Meredith
Stacy Peralta
as Shuttle Pilot
Daniel Addes
as Laser Ray Victim
Andrew M. Aybar
as Bartender
Sean Frye
as Boy at Science Fair
Joann Willette
as Girl at Science Fair
Ina Gould
as Old Lady
Martin Gundersen
as Math Professor
Brett Miller
as Carpet Man
Ed Garrabrandt
as TV Makeup Man
Isabelle Cooley
as TV Stage Manager
Isabel Cooley
as TV Stage Manager
Robin Stober
as Waitress
David Marvit
as Student in Hall
Michael Crabtree
as Air Force Gate Guard
Charles Sweigart
as Air Force Gate Guard
Peter Parros
as Air Force Gate Guard
Ron Taylor
as Computer Technician
James Carrington
as Air Force Major
Ronald Taylor
as Computer Technician
Michael Backes
as Air Force Controller
Jeanne Mori
as Laser Technician
David Ursin
as Engineer
Will Knox
as Laser Specialist
Kevin Hurley
as Air Force Technician
Andres Aybar
as Bartender
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Real Genius

Critic Reviews for Real Genius

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (5)

The humor is relentlessly cruel, smug, and disconnected from any sense of how human beings might behave in similar situations.

Full Review… | May 30, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

What lifts the production above the run-of-the-mill is swift direction by Martha Coolidge, who has a firm grasp over the manic material.

Full Review… | May 30, 2007
Top Critic

It does make you wonder if the drive of the US education system is ultimately to develop better weapons of mass-destruction, though Coolidge's movie is too hazily good-natured to capitalise on the tougher aspects of the material.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

What the film needs, instead of these familiar teen-movie trappings, is a cleverness and eccentricity to match that of its characters. For the most part, these are qualities that it lacks.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Real Genius contains many pleasures, but one of the best is its conviction that the American campus contains life as we know it.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

A witty, whip-smart and wise classic. It checks crowd-pleasing boxes of college-comedy tropes while boasting a cheerful view that optimism in education is not a sucker's bet but one to place over and over to keep things interesting ... and weird.

Full Review… | September 17, 2015

Audience Reviews for Real Genius

Classic 80's movie!!

John Manard

Super Reviewer


This is one of those movies that I wake up one morning and just want to watch, an old faithful if you will. Val Kilmer gives one of his best performances, whether he wants to admit it or not, as Chris Knight, a once was child prodigy who has all the social graces of a man who really does know too much. Hilarious and heartfelt, if this film is not on your shelf at home I suggest it gets there soon!

Unknown Hobo

Super Reviewer

A funny movies about nerds, I like it better than Revenge of the Nerds, except that it has Kilmer, who's not that good an actor, but overall, it's a funny movie and I enjoyed it.

Aj V

Super Reviewer

Real Genius Quotes

– Submitted by Jeremy T (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Ryan A (4 years ago)
– Submitted by Ryan A (4 years ago)

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