Here's How 'Real Genius' Ruined Your College Experience

You'd probably be less resentful of those student loans if your roommate had been Val Kilmer.

“Real Genius” is the kind of movie that everyone has seen but people forget to talk about in the way the speak of other 80s teen classics like “The Breakfast Club” or “Back to the Future.” Much like those films, “Real Genius” is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

Though you may not have realized it until now, it’s probable that “Real Genius” was one of the first movies that set your expectations about what your college experience would be like. If that’s the case, you were undoubtedly horribly disappointed.

Here’s why:

  1. You Probably Hated Your Roommate
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    Val Kilmer’s Chris Knight is the roommate ideal: he’s whipsmart and a slacker. He can help you with your homework and show you how to party and introduce you to people. One could hardly ask for more, but it’s more likely that your randomly assigned college roommate was a recluse, washed their clothes with Fabreeze, or didn’t know how to keep their hands off your Top Ramen.

  2. There Was No One Living in Your Closet
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    College is full of quirky weirdos, that much is true, but odds are not a single one of them lived in your closet. Hell, you were lucky if your dorm room closet even had a door; more likely you had a curtain or, god help you, a shower curtain. And if, by some miracle, you did find a freeloader in your closet, it’s unlikely they were a haunted genius like Lazlo Hollyfeld.

  3. Nobody Cared When You Cried to Your Parents Because They All Knew School Sucked
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    There’s a scene in “Real Genius” where young prodigy Mitch is horrified when a recording of him ugly crying to his parentals on the phone is played over a P.A. system. So horrified, in fact, that he’s going to give up everything – a scholarship working on cutting-edge technology and a college experience literally no one could ever replicate – because people heard him crying.

    But guess what? Freshman year of college is hard. Everyone cries to Mommy and Daddy, whether they admit it or not. And when you did it, it’s more likely you got a silent nod of solidarity than a cruel prank.

  4. You Never Foiled an Evil Professor
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    Whether it’s Richard Vernon in “The Breakfast Club,” Ed Rooney in “Ferris Bueller,” Mr. Strickland in “Back to the Future,” or William Atheron’s Jerry Hathaway in “Real Genius,” 80s teen movies revel in having the jerkish authority figure that borders somewhere between out-of-touch and pure evil. In Hathaway’s case, it’s leaning more towards super villain.

    And yet, despite the trope, it’s doubtful any of us have ever had a legitimately evil professor let alone foiled their war mongering plans. There were certainly countless authority figures you’d daydream about getting taken away in handcuffs in an arrest of your own making; a daydream shattered when that professor catches you and puts you on the spot in front of the class. Typical.

  5. Your Popcorn Was Always Burnt
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    Forget popping popcorn with a laser from outer space, you were lucky if your crappy microwave popcorn came out without a slew of toasted black kernels pouring out of the bag. You weren’t allowed a microwave in your room, of course, so you were stuck using the ancient microwaves in the common kitchen that were so old they didn’t even have the “popcorn” button modern microwave popcorn tells you never to use.

    As you munched your terrible popcorn, you no doubt resented Mitch and Chris for making an endless supply of the perfect snack with nary one over-popped kernel.