Mitch Taylor (Gabriel Jarret) is a teenager with a bright engineering future. Fast-tracked to college to help further his skills, Mitch feels out of place and deeply awkward when trying to work with his peers or make new friends. While his college roommate, Chris Knight (Val Kilmer), is brilliant, he seems to enjoy living life to the fullest with an extreme amount of partying and causing havoc among fellow peers.
While Mitch is trying to adjust and blend in at his new college, his well-respected teacher Professor Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton), is working on something secret. The military needs the professor’s help to get his students (including Mitch and Chris) to develop a military weapon- a powerful laser that can be used to fight future wars. It’s not long until Mitch and Chris discover what they’ve been working towards. Now they must work together to ruin the military’s plan and save the entire world before it’s too late.
Real Genius is best described as a comedy. Filled with gags that are wholly wacky and over the top, the film also has some sci-fi aspects and even a touch of teen romance mixed in. I found the scientific and sci-fi aspects of the film entertaining. This is also where the film becomes more creative, and we enjoy things such as seeing the college hallways being transformed into an ice ring so students can skate around.
You might, however, be disappointed if you’re a fan of actor Val Kilmer. While the film’s marketing, such as the poster art, would lead you to believe that Val Kilmer is the lead actor, the reality is that he serves more as a second billing and provides comedic relief for the entire duration. While I usually enjoy the comedic skill of actor Val Kilmer, I’m saddened to say this kind of comedy didn’t work for me. For most of the duration, the jokes are either forced or trying too hard to obtain a laugh from the audience. I found Val Kilmer’s performance slightly annoying during key scenes as he continually delivers dim-witted one-liners or childish responses.
Overall, while I usually enjoy seeing Val Kilmer playing an over-the-top character in a wacky comedy, the gags and over-the-top sense of humour didn’t gel with me here. The jokes feel far too forced, and they are trying far too hard to obtain a laugh from their audiences. Moments between scenes also sometimes needed to flow better together. Still, I must confess that the third act brings the movie to a fun conclusion with some great sci-fi-related ideas and creative visuals, redeeming the film’s quality and level of entertainment.