Tag Archives: Real Genius
Post by Josh Zinn.
Dear Val Kilmer,
Hi, you don’t know me, but I’ve been watching you. Not obsessively, mind you—I sort of forgot you existed after The Doors came out, so you needn’t worry about me judging you on all the weight you’ve gained—but enough that I can say that your 1985 movie, Real Genius, is a touchstone of my childhood. Sure, you share that honor with vanilla Dunkaroos, an episode of Punky Brewster where the Space Shuttle Challenger blows up, and the television movie, The Deliberate Stranger, starring Mark Harmon as Ted Bundy, but nonetheless, my 12-year old self’s sense of humor is indebted to the collegiate shenanigans you effortlessly showcased in that film.
Upon the suggestion of a friend, I recently re-watched Real Genius in hopes of stoking those Betamax fires of nostalgia. There you were again, Val, looking as irreverent and crazy as I remembered, wearing an “I Love Toxic Waste” t-shirt whilst sporting toy antennas on your head—Fun! Unfortunately, you weren’t as funny as I once thought. In fact, aside from your penchant for always being in the right place for an 80’s synthesizer-set montage, you were kind of just there, smirking your education (and my time) away in flip-flops and hair gel. I’m sorry to say this, Val, but this time around I found myself far more fascinated by the unusual kid you take under your wing as your protégé. Y’know, the really smart one who looks like a cross between Tyne Daly and Martin Short? Yeah, that one.
See, Val, I’ve grown up and with age, I guess, comes the realization that Real Genius, while still fun in a stay-in-bed-all-day kind of way, isn’t as groundbreaking a film as I remembered it to be. Sure, it may be one of the first movies to successfully combine advanced military weaponry with bikini-beach dorm parties and Jiffy Pop, but even amidst all those fluffy nuggets of combat, keggers, and comedy are kernels of unpopped gold. I know this is all so sudden and I apologize, but I didn’t realize until I saw you again that accentuating your character’s eccentricities by wearing bunny slippers to class just isn’t going to cut it in post-justaboutanythingsinceIwentthroughpuberty world. Times are tough, Val, and it takes a real genius to know when to up the ante. Until you figure it out, my eyes will be on Cagney… or is that Lacey?
P.S. – If it helps, I’m pretty much over Dunkaroos too.