I.Q. (1994) directed by Fred Schepisi.
We're both pretty big fans of Meg Ryan's work pre- Against the Ropes (2004) and we love a good romantic comedy. And who doesn't love Tim Robbins? The chemistry (pun intended) between Catherine, a nerdy mathematician, and Ed, a car mechanic, is fueled by none other than Catherine's adorable elderly uncle, Albert Einstein, who is played by scene stealer, Walter Matthau. Matthau's Einstein is probably the best part of the film along with his fellow partners in crime who all add the silly, nerdy repartee that every good rom-com needs.
The plot is fairly simple but what makes this film worth multiple viewings is Matthau's depiction of Einstein. Him and his goofy scientist friends are determined to play cupid for Catherine who is in a relationship with a man (Stephen Fry) they deem unworthy. It's true, Fry's stuffiness and lack of imagination seem like a poor match for the quirky and spirited niece of one of the world's greatest minds. His thinking is too inside-the-box and by the book. Enter Ed. The kind, creative car mechanic with a heart of gold and an exceptional mind. Einstein and his buddies think Catherine wouldn't be happy with someone who wasn't as smart or smarter than herself so they devise a plan to set the two up by providing Ed with a scientific theory that impresses even the President of the United States (Dwight D. Eisenhower played by Keene Curtis). True to romantic comedy form, their plan starts to fall apart and soon Catherine discovers it was all a hoax. Her happiness is in the stars, with fate. It's corny but hey! most good romantic comedies are.
This film is packed with all sorts of fun facts and anecdotes (true or false) about some of history's greatest minds. Sure, the creators of this film took some creative licenses in bringing Einstein back to life but most of it is forgivable thanks to Matthau's stellar performance. While some of the issues of gender and relationships are problematic, Ryan's character is mostly an independent, clever mathematician who can and does have discussions with other characters in the film about topics other than her romantic life (not a common occurrence for this type of film). It is frustrating that we're supposed to believe that Ed's character has a comparable intellectual mind, fostered by the School of Life, with the Princeton PhD candidate whose heart and mind he is trying to win. But it's a forgivable incongruity that is in part mended by Einstein's insistence that his niece learns there is more to life and love than a shared interest in academia and continuing the family line of geniuses. I.Q. is a movie with heart. It would make a perfect mother-daughter pick for movie night!
(BTW, it's currently available on Netflix!)
Julie and Jenavieve
A geeky mother and daughter working to bring science and art together. To get to know us better, check out our about page!