YMMV / Real Genius

  • Esoteric Happy Ending: Hathaway's weapon worked. Blowing up Hathaway's house still proved that it worked; and it's shown that the CIA knew it was a problem with targeting; not the laser function. Chris had given the schematics (the dynamite laser) to Hathaway before he decided against it. Even if the original Kill Sat was destroyed after destroying Hathaway's house due to the reflected laser; Hathaway and his military contacts would have made copies of this information. That is, unless it was subject to added public and Congressional scrutiny—see Headscratchers.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: This little exchange:
    Hathaway: I want to see more of you in the lab.
    Chris: Fine. I'll gain weight.
    • Worse is how the kind of targeted assassinations that the death laser was planned for is actually now done with unmanned attack drones. Turns out the death laser would have done far less collateral damage.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Gabe Jarret plays Mitch, and Yuji Okumoto plays Fenton. And both of them later got punched out by Daniel Larusso.
  • Ho Yay: Between Chris and Mitch, so very much.
  • It Was His Sled: By now the popcorn house ending is fairly well known.
  • Shown Their Work: It's debatable how much is this and how much might be considered Easter Eggs, but, aside from the over-arching Hollywood Physics plot, the number of minor, technical details that are accurate probably represents how many "not-Pacific Tech" alumni crawled from the woodwork to flesh out the details of Pacific Tech campus life and the general science scenes.
  • Recycled: The Series: Attempted in the mid twenty-teens to cash in on the success of The Big Bang Theory. The project never got past the pilot phase; which is probably for the best since it was being made by Adam Sandler's production company...
  • Strawman Has a Point: At no point does any of the protagonists bother to exposit why it's so wrong to build a laser capable of vaporizing ground targets from space. They simply state that it is, and act on that basis.
    • Hathaway lied to them and used them to build weapons. It was their tech and work and he stole it from them to use to kill people. They had a moral connection to that work and could not stand the idea of their work used to kill people.
    • Even if building a death laser for the government is not wrong in and of itself, taking people who don't want to build a death laser for the government and tricking them into doing precisely that is unethical. If informed consent ain't informed, then it ain't consent.
    • Hell, less than a minute into the film the CIA panel behind the creation of the laser openly admit that it is "immoral and unethical" and laugh about it. It's described as "useless" for warfare, and is instead a "peacetime weapon": it would be used for unauthorized CIA assassinations and operations that would be undertaken without input from any other agency or branch of the government / military. Even the president would be kept in the dark. It's even implied that one of the members of the panel discussing the weapon who objects to its creation and use out of fear that it will cause escalations in global tensions and warfare will be assassinated by his colleagues after he requests reassignment. The panel then moves on to watching a "film on blinding techniques." Within two minutes the film pretty clearly establishes why it's wrong to build the laser and the nefarious nature of those behind the creation of the weapon.
    • Especially since the government got its "perfect peacetime weapon" anyway with unmanned attack drones, and they are causing the "massive escalation" the film warned of.
  • The Woobie: Mitch, deliberately. His parents are so aloof and neglectful, they don't understand why a bullied fifteen year old would want to return home or why renting out his room to a stranger would upset him. Add in the bullies, the aloof roommate who is more into partying than working, the apathetic classmates who put recording devices in a class so they don't have to appear but still get the lessons, and the teacher of said class who gave up and put his lesson on a recording for the class to listen to, and Mitch was the only student to still attend in person, college was not the joy he thought it would be.