Ah, the '80s. It was the semi-golden decade of decadence and self-importance. It was the last time when what the average Joe likes determined what the movie studios made, not the other way around. Consequently, it was the last decade for really funny movies. In the 90s, if you wanted to make something side-splitting, you had to go Independent.
In the '80s, however, there are no shortage of movies that are just plain fun. From the Ghostbusters films to Ferris Bueller's Day Off, to the off-kilter dark comedy/horror April Fools Day, the 80s had no shortage of movies that made you laugh. It was the only time that comedies had scripts instead of actors that make up their own scripts, and, as a consequence, the movies of the '80s were actually funny.
Although it did not start the trend of the '80s towards being incredibly funny, Real Genius remains a film that retains its standing as a hilarious movie. Unlike '90s comedies, which get tiring after the first few times, Real Genius never gets old. Real Genius is a classic.
In Real Genius, Val Kilmer and Gabriel Jarrett star as two of the ten finest minds in the world. No, it wasn't a joke to cast Val Kilmer as a genius... this was before he killed every brain cell and allowed his agent to cast him in The Saint. Kilmer plays a relaxed, t-shirt wearing genius named Chris Knight. Jarrett plays an uptight, 15-year-old college freshman genius named Mitch Taylor. Knight and Taylor are working on a top-secret laser that is designed to assassinate any single human target from space... of course, they don't know that. They are being duped into this job by their professor, Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton). To imagine what a total schmuck Hathaway is, think of the principal in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and multiple the asshole-factor by ten.
The script is populated with one-liners, running jokes, and oddball relationships. The film is cute, eminently quoteable, and actually has a plot (the other major difference between 80s studio comedies and 90s studio comedies.). The actors surpass doing their jobs: the play their quirky roles to the maximum. From Kilmer actually being a good actor for once (his timing in this film is perfect), to the uptight RA, Kent (Prescott) to the student who lives in the steam tunnels (you have to see it to understand), to the ultra hyper genius, Jordan (Michelle Meyrink), everyone plays their part in making this a very funny movie.
The only bad thing about Real Genius is this: the film spends plenty of time trying to be something profound. This was a problem with films in general during the 80s, and it can be seen as a distinguishing mark of its era. However, because it spends so much time trying to be profound, it loses the opportunity for certain jokes along the way.
Other than that, Real Genius is a perfect comedy.