A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that I.Q. is a cute, quirky 1950s-set romantic comedy starring Tim Robbins, Meg Ryan, and, as Albert Einstein, Walter Matthau. It's light and breezy, and there's hardly anything in the way of iffy content. You can expect a smattering of salty language ("shut up," "hell," and "jeez" are each said once), some kissing and embracing, and a bit of innuendo (a passing reference to "making love," a double-entendre joke about "premature ignition" in a car, and the like), but overall this is a tween-friendly story about learning to think with your heart as well as your head. Characters do deceive and manipulate others to achieve their ends, but their intentions are for the best, truth wins out in the end, and it's all quite lighthearted.
What's the story?
In 1950s Princeton, New Jersey, science-loving mechanic Ed Walters (Tim Robbins) falls in love at first sight with beautiful, brainy, sometimes bemused Catherine Boyd (Meg Ryan). He's star-struck when he finds out that Catherine is the niece of Albert Einstein (Walter Matthau), who takes an immediate shine to Ed and decides that the impulsive car expert would be a far better match for his niece than her current fiance, stuffy British psychologist James (Stephen Fry). With the help of his entourage of fellow big thinkers -- Kurt Gödel (Lou Jacobi), Boris Podolsky (Gene Saks), and Nathan Liebknecht (Joseph Maher) -- Einstein conspires to make Catherine think that Ed is a brilliant physicist who's worthy of her affection. But when their deception spirals out of control, will Ed lose his chance to win her heart?
Is it any good?
First things first -- this winning romantic comedy doesn't make any claims on historical accuracy. Einstein never had a niece named Catherine Boyd, and his fellow scientist friends were actually significantly younger than they're portrayed here. But so long as you're in the market for fun over facts, this cute, breezy romcom is quite entertaining. Einstein and his buddies are, frankly, adorable as mischievous meddlers who take as much joy in matchmaking as they do in debating whether time actually exists. And, as their ringleader, Matthau is the perfect mix of cuddliness and knowing humor; he makes it plausible that one of history's greatest minds might actually have called out "wahoo" during a motorcycle ride.
The quartet of elderly friends really is the best part of the movie. Ryan and Robbins are winning enough as Ed and Catherine, but neither role feels like a stretch for the stars; even back in 1994, when I.Q. was released, audiences had seen Ryan do her "quirky pixie" thing several times before, and Robbins has never been a stranger to loopy, dreamy characters. Still, their road to romance is sweet, charming, and -- although predictable -- always upbeat.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether the ends ever justify the means. Is it OK that Ed and Einstein deceive Catherine (and, by extension, the rest of the country) to make Ed more attractive to her? Is something that wouldn't be OK in real life acceptable in a movie? Why, or why not?
How accurately do you think I.Q. depicts Einstein's life and relationships? How could you find out more about this part of his life?
Can you choose whom you love? Parents, talk to your kids about your own values regarding love and relationships.
- In theaters: December 25, 1994
- On DVD or streaming: September 23, 2003
- Cast: Meg Ryan, Tim Robbins, Walter Matthau
- Director: Fred Schepisi
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.