Real Genius is a 1985 American comic science fiction film directed by Martha Coolidge and written by Neal Israel, Pat Proft, and PJ Torokvei. Starring Val Kilmer and Gabriel Jarret, the film, set on the campus of Pacific Tech, a science and engineering university similar to Caltech, follows Chris Knight (Kilmer), a genius in his senior year, who is paired with a new student on campus, Mitch Taylor (Jarret), to work on a chemical laser.


The CIA has covertly hired Professor Jerry Hathaway at Pacific Technical University to develop the power source for "Crossbow": a laser weapon precise enough to commit illegal political assassinations from outer space. Hathaway uses his position to recruit brilliant students to do the work for him but, aside from his graduate student and toady Kent, does not tell them the reason for their research.