Real Genius (1983)
They say an 80’s movie—comedy or drama, doesn’t matter—is only as good as its musical montage scenes. Well I say it anyway but the case is abundantly clear to anyone who has half a scalp with remnants of crimped hair. Real Genius is a perfect example of a perfect 80s movie with all the right elements including its actors, storytelling, jokes and memorable lines and of course not one, not two but three musical montages of incredibly awesome 80’s tunes.
And these tunes aren’t even used for a sports or action montage either. No no my Rubik’s Cube enthusiasts. This is a film about nerds and geeks, so of course they are studying montages. What, do you think that only jocks, karate kids, sportos and electric boogaloogers deserve 80’s montage music? I have covered another dork-centric 80’s classic a while back that also had a fantastic soundtrack: Revenge of the Nerds and again, that didn’t have a montage that featured much movement or muscle strain more than cleaning an old house! Nerds need musical accompaniment as much as anyone. (Fun Fact: super-cute Michelle Meyrink stars in both of these geek classics!)
Real Genius, is an odd movie for me, historically. I didn’t see it in the 80s at all but caught it in high school when it was back on cable rotation. Back then I knew who Val Kilmer was from his dramatic roles in Top Gun, Willow and The Doors. I never knew he got his start with two of the best comedies of all time, this and Top Secret! and caught them later on. I assume Real Genius wasn’t a major hit and became more of a cult following with the newer generation. By the time I got to college it was one of my favorite movies and it was easily played dozens of times in my dorm room since it was essentially, a college-aged comedy and everyone knew it and loved it.
But one of my favorite aspects of Real Genius is not how awkward the kid who played Mitch looks and acts (seriously, that is one odd-looking kid) but the few songs that weren’t necessarily hits but were great underrated tunes in their own right. Well, “Number One” by Chas Jankel and “I’m Falling” by The Comsat Angels anyway. One of my favorite 80s bands—Tears For Fears also has a quick montage with the finale with their incredible seminal 80s anthem, “Everyone Wants to Rule The World.” I’ve never heard of Jankel or the Comsat Angels before or since but that’s a shame if the rest of their music is anywhere as cool as those songs used for the montages in Real Genius. So if you have finals coming up in the next few weeks, or have to study for the SATs, you may want to crank up Jankel and The Comsat Angels to boost those neurons.