Some years ago, I wrote a short piece for my friend Blake about a truly miserable 1980s film. Writing the piece reminded me of my second favorite movie of that era, Martha Coolidge’s Real Genius. Among other things, Real Genius is a movie that liberals should love — it portrays a bright and enterprising group of colorful, fun-loving nerds who take on a smarmy, pretentious greedhead professor who is in bed with the military-industrial complex. I loved the movie because Val Kilmer was at the height of his powers, and because I identified with Jon Gries’s Lazlo Hollyfeld, a deranged madman who lived in the steam tunnels beneath a college dorm, where he spent his days harvesting and processing cereal box-tops. (I mean, who doesn’t?) And the rest of the cast is terrific too: Michelle Meyrink, who I’m sorry to say seems to have left the movie business, plays a really charming, fast-talking genius co-ed: this movie had something for everyone. Also, let’s not forget the smooth grooves.
Now it turns out that Val Kilmer is seriously contemplating a run for governor of New Mexico. I’m sad to say that Ben Smith’s blog post on the subject name-checks Kilmer’s regrettable role in a long-since-forgotten Batman sequel while totally neglecting his star turn in Real Genius. This is madness. At one point in the film, the nerds use their nerdery to create an unstable pseudo-ice compound that allows for wintertime merrymaking in the heart of Southern California. Perhaps Governor Kilmer could use similarly exotic technologies to fight anthropogenic climate change, and to make the deserts of New Mexico bloom with lush produce and grass-fed dairy cows.