Real Genius is Police Academy with brains. Setting the proceedings at a think tank for young prodigies seems a curious choice as most of the humor of the film comes out of character rather than place. Val Kilmer, punning his way through his senior year at Pacific Tech, is hardly convincing as a world-class intellect.
Plot [by Neal Israel, Pat Proft] about creating a portable laser system for the Air Force under the tutelage of campus creep Professor Hathaway (William Atherton) has the authority of an old Abbott and Costello film. Theme about the exploitation of these youthful minds is lost in a sea of sight gags.
What lifts the production above the run-of-the-mill is swift direction by Martha Coolidge, who has a firm grasp over the manic material.