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Film / Bad Genius

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Ready to pay for A's?From left to right 

"Don't you see — even if you don't cheat, life cheats you anyway."

Bad Genius (released in Thailand as Chalard Games Goeng / ฉลาดเกมส์โกง) is a 2017 Thai heist film directed by Nattawut Poonpiriya. It stars Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying, Chanon Santinatornkul, Teeradon Supapunpinyo, and Eisaya Hosuwan.

The film centers around Lynn, an intelligent Scholarship Student at a prestigious high school. She first helps her Book Dumb friend Grace cheat on an exam so Grace can keep her grades up enough to act in the school play. Grace's wealthy, unintelligent, but opportunistic boyfriend Pat convinces Lynn to help a group of people with their grades — they will, of course, each pay her a hefty sum per subject.

Realizing how lucrative profiting off sharing exam answers can be and dismayed at the large amount of "tea money" her working-class father paid the school for her acceptance, Lynn agrees. Also in the mix is Bank, Lynn's fellow Scholarship Student and rival for a coveted college scholarship, who begins to suspect the cheating going on. Events later escalate into Lynn, Grace, Pat, and Bank attempting to steal the answers to the STIC (an international standardized test to get into foreign schools, analogous to the SATs) and making millions off of it, possibly at the expense of their moral integrity.

Compare The Perfect Score, another film about stealing the answers to the SATs. Not to be confused with Evil Genius.

Bad Genius contains examples of:

  • Achievement Test of Destiny: The STIC will decide whether students get into good foreign schools.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The interrogation scenes that form the initial Framing Device are shot like the students have been caught and are attempting to squirm their way out of the authorities. It's actually a rehearsal before Lynn and Bank ship out to Sydney, should they get caught.
  • Book Dumb: Pat and Grace. They continuously fail to do well in tests and rely on Lynn for their grades (although Grace is mentioned to have decent grades except in math). They're competent enough to do the legwork for a mass cheating scandal, however.
  • Brainless Beauty: Pat and Grace are attractive and popular but are Book Dumb.
  • The Caper: Centers around a foursome of secondary school students who aim to profit off the answers to an international standardized test.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: In the end, Lynn blows the whistle on the operation, so everyone's ill-gotten scores will be nullified, and all of the perpetrators will be punished.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Bank establishes that he's practiced memorizing pi and later puts his memorization skills to work as part of the caper.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Pat gets a shiny new BMW for passing an exam.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Lynn needs another brain to help her with the heist. Convenient that Bank was beat up by thugs, resulting in him losing his shot at a prestigious scholarship, and giving him motivation to help them! Subverted, as it turns out that Pat deliberately set him up.
  • Drama Queen: Grace is called such in the marketing. She's the type of person to cry when she doesn't know the answers to a test (and she actually is in the drama club), although she keeps a cooler head than Pat when things appear to go south.
  • Establishing Character Moment: For all four main characters.
    • Lynn's is rattling off the total expenses her father will end up paying the school if she moves there, showing her analytical mind and intelligence, as well as her pride in her abilities.
      Vit: Gold medal in maths.
    • Grace's is smoothing back Lynn's hair at her ID shoot, indicating that she's friendly and cares about keeping up appearances.
    • Pat's is carelessly jumping into a pool owned by his family and complaining about the water that gets in his ears, establishing that he's rich, careless, and doesn't think too much about the consequences.
    • Bank gets two: the first is rattling off digits of pi on a game show (showing that he's as intelligent as Lynn) and refusing a classmate's offer to pay him for his exam scores, showing he's the most morally upright of the four.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Lynn gets two moments. The first is when she realizes she can relay exam answers to her classmates via finger tapping patterns corresponding to classical music pieces while playing the piano. The second is when she overhears an American talking to his daughter about the time difference on the phone, and realizes that she can use international time zones to get the answers out.
  • Fall Guy: Bank's the one who takes the fall for the scheme when it's found out. He lies and says he was checking his dictionary during the exam, sparing Lynn and the others. This leaves him jaded and bitter by the end.
  • Hourglass Plot: Between Bank and Lynn. Lynn freely masterminds an exam cheating scheme while Bank refuses to let his classmate copy off of him, even for a hefty sum. By the end, Bank is banned from retaking the STIC and expelled from the school. He tries to blackmail Lynn into stealing the answers to the GATsnote  with her role in the heist, while Lynn, who was wracked with guilt and undergoes a moral epiphany, refuses and exposes the scheme.
  • How We Got Here: The film opens with the students being questioned, and is intercut with flashbacks to their school life, building up to how the cheating scheme was conceived. It turns out those were merely practice performances in case they are caught by the authorities. The film proceeds in chronological order after the story catches up to that point.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: When Pat describes his relationship with Bank, he lets slip that Bank was beat up and found in a landfill. The problem? Bank never told anyone he was found in a landfill, meaning that Pat hired the thugs to beat Bank up badly enough that he misses the scholarship exam.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Implied for both Lynn and Bank. They're the two smartest in their grade, but Grace is the only friend of Lynn's we see, while Pat alludes that Bank's not much better in that department.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • The students who benefit from Lynn's 'piano code' are never found out. Instead, the whole thing is exposed when Lynn completes her classmate's exam. Lynn herself loses her scholarship.
    • Ultimately subverted. The students get their high STIC scores, but Lynn exposes the scheme herself at the end, implying that justice will be served for them.
  • Mouthful of Pi: Bank steals Lynn's thunder on a game show by reciting several digits of pi.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Lynn really starts reconsidering her actions once it's revealed that Pat hired the thugs who beat up Bank, saying that it's not worth it anymore if someone gets hurt.
  • Only in It for the Money: Lynn, Pat, and Grace get Bank to agree to the scheme once they offer him a million baht for his participation.
  • Secret Relationship: Invoked by Grace — when Lynn's father asks where his daughter is, she lies that Lynn and Bank are a couple and are on a secret trip to Sydney. It works.
  • Scholarship Student: Both Bank and Lynn. Bank's mother runs a laundromat, while Lynn's father is a teacher. Both are keenly aware that despite their superior intelligence and work ethic, they are still at a disadvantage compared to their richer classmates, and this factors into their motivations.
  • Serial Escalation: Lynn goes from passing Grace the answers on one exam to running a school-wide cheating ring to masterminding a heist to steal the answers for an international standardized test.
  • Ship Tease: Between Lynn and Bank. Lynn tells him he reminds her of her father, and smooths up his appearance. They have an intense moment on a footbridge after Pat reveals he was responsible for Bank's beatdown, and grow a bit closer on their trip to Sydney. However, nothing comes of it, as shown during Lynn and Bank's bitter final confrontation in the laundromat.
  • Standard Snippet: Snippets of classical music play as Lynn explains the hand movements used to denote the multiple-choice answers. "Für Elise" for A, "Turkish March" for B, "Piano Sonata #16" for C, and "Minuet in G" for D.
  • Stress Vomit: Invoked by Lynn after Bank is caught. She induces vomiting on herself to leave the room and get the rest of the answers to Grace and Pat, faking stress and sickness to the examiner. The whole thing is shown in a Vomit Indiscretion Shot.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Lynn passes Grace her answers of her own volition, but it's Pat who suggests making a profit from it, resulting in the Serial Escalation. Grace herself encourages this behavior.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: The plan to steal the STIC answers is explained in detail, so it of course goes awry.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Pat. He's a hotel heir whose parents frequently go on shopping sprees abroad. He's not the brightest bulb, which means he usually tries to pay his way through life.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The film was inspired by cheating scandals on the SAT. It gets a Setting Update to a Thai high school.