I.Q.

Movie review by
Betsy Bozdech, Common Sense Media
I.Q. Movie Poster Image
Breezy, quirky romcom is predictable but sweet.
  • PG
  • 1994
  • 100 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

Ultimately a celebration of love, friendship, and learning to think with your heart, the movie also deals quite a bit in deception and manipulation (albeit done with the best of intentions). But characters feel bad about deceiving others and eventually come clean.

Positive role models & representations

Catherine is a smart female character who sometimes doubts her ability to achieve her own successes but is loved and supported by most of those around her. Ed is an unabashed romantic who's led somewhat astray in the pursuit of love, but he has positive intentions and never wants to hurt anyone. Einstein and his buddies are portrayed as a charmingly meddlesome quartet who doesn't hesitate to compromise their ethics if it will help a friend.

Violence

A man falls out of a tree (no injuries). Some fairly reckless-looking motorcycle riding, without helmets (not required during the movie's time period). A couple wrestles on the ground; a woman slaps a man on the face. The subjects of a time-deprivation experiment are loudly agitated. Talk of attaching electrodes to experimental mice's genitals.

Sex

Kissing/embracing. Some innuendo (brief references to "premature ignition" and "making love"). References to a natural phenomenon in Maui that feels like a million kisses on your skin and/or an enormous tongue licking your entire body. Catherine's fiance rebuffs her attempts to get physical during a dinner party. Some longing looks. A character is briefly referred to as "the chimp pimp." Atoms are described once as "sexy."

Language

Infrequent use of words including "shut up," "hell," and "jeez." Barely heard use of "bitch." Some name-calling ("troglodyte," "idiot," "rat man") and crude references ("how are they hanging?"). One use of a derogatory term ("dago").

Consumerism

Car brands are mentioned by men who work at a garage. Vintage issues of magazines are shown.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Adult characters drink wine and beer with dinner and toast with champagne at a reception.

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.

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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.

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