Real Genius

  • Directors: Martha Coolidge
  • Producers: Brian Grazer
  • Writers: Neal Israel, Pat Proft, Peter Torokvei
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance, Sci-Fi
  • Actors: Val Kilmer, Gabriel Jarret, William Atherton, Jon Gries, Ed Lauter, Michelle Meyrink, Robert Prescott, Deborah Foreman

The military contracts Professor Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton) of Pacific Tech to construct a chemical laser weapon capable of eliminating individual human targets from space. To this end, Hathaway forms a research team composed of his students at the university who will design and perfect the device; they will believe that they are advancing the frontiers of physics, completely unaware that it will be used as a military weapon. When the Agency insists upon increasing the output power of the laser, Hathaway searches outside of the university for a fresh perspective and sets his sights on emerging prodigy Mitch Taylor. The Professor informs Mitch and his parents that Mitch has been accepted for the mid-winter term at Pacific Tech. Mitch will become the second youngest student ever accepted into the university; the youngest “cracked under pressure within 6 months.” Upon arriving on campus, Mitch is assigned a dorm room with Chris Knight. Chris is in his senior year at Pacific Tech and already works on the laser project. Mitch meets the rest of the team, including graduate assistant Kent (Robert Prescott), who sees Mitch as a threat (particularly because the professor tells Kent that he will now be reporting directly to Mitch).

Just at sunset, as the credits begin, Dr. Hathaway drives up to and parks in front of his shattered house and stands disconsolately looking at it, then holds his handkerchief to his face against the smell of the popcorn as the dog he has chased away from the house throughout the film runs up to greet him.