The conceit of this 1950s-set yarn is that the world’s most famous scientist, Albert Einstein (Walter Matthau), realizes that his egghead niece is in need of some heart massaging. She has a stuffy tenured beau who bores the pants of Al and his German cadre at Princeton.
The promising spark occurs when the niece, Catherine (Meg Ryan), sputters into a garage and encounters mechanic Ed Walters (Tim Robbins). She absent-mindedly leaves her watch, and Ed seizes the opportunity it presents. To win the girl for the young man, the professors create an elaborate ruse that extends to refashioning Ed in tweeds and a meerschaum. They also school him in ‘cold fusion,’ which Ike declares a major leap in the space race against the Russkies.
A paean to movies past, I.Q. recalls the style and attitude of a bygone era while retaining a contemporary spirit and polish. The material provides Robbins with the kind of likable, charismatic role that gained him early recognition.