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Parents' Guide to

Real Genius

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

'80s college comedy with some sex jokes, cursing.

Movie PG 1985 106 minutes
Real Genius Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 12+

Positive messages about smart kids

A great study of the angst and alienation of gifted kids. If you have any kids who are worried about being too smart, then it's a good movie to watch. On the surface, "Chris" appears to be shallow, apathetic, and hedonistic; throwing away his incredible talents. He's the perfect foil for "Mitch", a shy, awkward and lonely prodigy, who takes things far too seriously. Mitch learns to lighten up. Chris learns to take some responsibility, at one point pulling Mitch out of his shell: "When you're smart, people need you." Together, they stand up to bullies, fight against evil applications of technology, and pull off some hilarious science pranks along the way. There's a lot of sexual references and innuendo -- since it's an 80's movie. But nothing like the gratuitous nudity and appalling female objectification in "Revenge of the Nerds". It will get a few giggles from young teens, but nothing you'll need to shield them from or have adult discussions about. The more religious among you may object to the humor in Chris impersonating God as part of an intricate prank. I thought it was hilarious, but just to let you know.

This title has:

Great messages
Too much sex
age 12+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (7 ):

This movie is as '80s as parachute pants, Aqua-Netted manes, and keytars. It occupies a space somewhere between Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds, but lacks the overall quality to be the "classic comedy" of the former and comes off as a somewhat more thoughtful (if not as funny) variation on the latter. There are some memorable scenes involving over-the-top pranks and one-liners that could only come out of an '80s movie, but there are already so many variations on the "crazy college hijinx and sexcapades" type of movie. Even the main characters, young out-of-place Mitch and wild and crazy Chris, seem like just a slight variation of Rudy and Tripper in Meatballs.

Still, there's enough depth to the characters to make these young prodigies more than the typical stereotype of smart kids as "nerds" who walk around in thick glasses and pocket protectors. And compared to so many other '80s comedies in which ethnic and sexual orientation stereotypes abound, as well as sexual situations that are downright creepy if not deserving of prison time, Real Genius avoids most of that (there is a scene in which an older woman does try to seduce the 15-year-old Mitch). It even communicates some worthwhile and relevant discussion about the struggles of young people who have remarkable talents.

Movie Details

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