It doesn’t matter what kind of genius these young men and women are, these movies depict both the highs and lows of being smart.
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Being born with a particularly high IQ has its advantages, but it can also present a number of challenges. When it comes to being shunned by classmates, some of them can be attributed to the fact that they were born in a time and location where intellectual talents were not valued.
In these movies, the young geniuses featured aren’t just shown to have an above-average intelligence, but are shown to have to balance that intelligence with the realities of what it’s like to be a young person on the spectrum who has to learn how to relate to people while simultaneously being extremely knowledgeable about calculus and chess.
1. Real Genius (1985) – Available On Prime
Real Genius tells the story of a high school science genius who is accepted into Pacific Tech and assigned to work with a senior who is developing a laser. Chris’s casual attitude toward the project first irks freshman Mitch, but they build a close friendship as the project proceeds and finally stand up to the government leaders who would use the laser as a weapon.
To its geniuses, the film reminds them that there is more to life than what they’re particularly brilliant at. Not all geniuses subscribe to the stereotype of being socially incompetent and fully concerned with a certain topic, so it’s crucial that the movie conveys that not all intellectually talented people adhere to this stereotype. Additionally, Chris Knight’s characterization as a slacker genius who isn’t challenged by his schoolwork is as relatable as Gabriel Jarret’s more bookish counterpart.
2. Searching For Bobby Fischer (1993) – Available On Prime
Young Josh, who is considered to be the future of chess thanks to his prodigious talent, is taking part in fast games in the local parks, where he learns from the wisecracking hustler Vinnie. Josh’s parents want him to have a professional coach, but Josh’s enjoyment of the game is threatened by the pressure of the coach’s stricter methods and the escalating tournaments.
Looking for Bobby Fischer is a wonderful family drama and one of the best chess movies ever made. It looks at how a child may develop their capabilities when they aren’t allowed to be a child due of their unique abilities. A child’s abilities might become a curse if adults don’t pay attention to what they need.
3. Weird Science (1985) – Available On Hulu
A sudden storm and an electrical surge cause the “ideal” woman to leap from the screen into the real world, where she is met by two scientific aficionados who never expected to encounter her.
If you’re a fan of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, you’ll be pleased to know that Weird Science adheres to cliches about geniuses (like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory) being socially awkward nerds and lacking friends for comedic relief. Lisa, on the other hand, is capable of taking care of herself. During the process of updating their appearances, she also provides them with priceless information into their views on women.
4. Artemis Fowl (2020) – Available On Disney+
Artemis Fowl follows the exploits of a 12-year-old genius who is descended from criminal masterminds and accidentally finds himself in the heart of a war with wicked fae who may have been involved in the disappearance of his father.
Artemis Fowl is a dynamic hero who, unlike certain depictions of kid prodigies, appears self-confident and at ease with himself. Being a youthful genius has never looked so great with designer outfits and the most up-to-date technology! That the film took two decades to be made and feels hurried is a shame because the series deserves greater consideration.
5. Good Will Hunting (1997) – Available On Hulu
Despite having a genius-level IQ, Will Hunting doesn’t go to MIT and instead works as a janitor there. When one of his professors catches him tackling a difficult math problem, he vows to help him achieve his actual potential. After he shows signs of violence and gets into an altercation with a local police officer, Will is offered leniency by going to a mental health center.
Genius is shown in a more humanitarian light in this much-lauded film (written by co-stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) that shows how it can go unrecognized if it belongs to the more contemplative of us. In addition, it illustrates the burden of intelligence, how it can effect someone’s emotions, and how accolades and acknowledgment for it aren’t always sought out.
6. Queen Of Katwe (2016) – Available On Disney+
Chess lessons from a missionary and a local soccer coach in Katwe, Uganda, can transform the life of a 10-year-old who lives in a slum. She discovers that her aptitude with the game can pull her and her family out of a life of poverty as she progresses from local competitions to international events.
Based on Phiona Mutesi’s true story and her extraordinary journey, Queen of Katwe showcases undiscovered geniuses who live in places of the world without access to privileges that might recognize and nurture their brilliance and the unique challenges they encounter.
7. X+Y (2014) – Available On Prime
At the International Mathematics Olympiad, a young math prodigy who has difficulty forming and maintaining friendships befriends a little girl who knows and appreciates him for who he is. He begins to thrive in ways he never imagined possible as a result of the experience.
One of the best movies of the year, X + Y (A Beautiful Young Mind) tells the story of an adolescent prodigy who realizes that he has no empathy and develops strategies for dealing with the world while being autistic. It doesn’t trivialize his difficulties and empowers him to take confident actions.
8. Fresh (1994) – Available On Prime
Playing against his father, a speed chess champion, the young chess player finds ways to divert himself from the harsh realities of life in the ghetto. His chess talents help him break the cycle of poverty and free himself and his family from it.
With limited options for escaping an underprivileged area, a 12-year-old genius is forced to rely only on his exceptional mental ability to make a better life for himself.
The plot’s complexity and ultimate resolution demonstrate the young protagonist’s resourcefulness, which he maintains against even the most calculated opponents, exactly like in chess.
9. Little Man Tate (1991) – Available On YouTube
For the sake of her 7-year-old son, a single mother sends him to a summer camp run by an esteemed child psychologist, who herself was a child prodigy, to be around other children with high intelligence. He grows intellectually during the camp’s curriculum and activities, but when he’s ready to compete on television, it becomes difficult for him to continue his schooling or enjoy regular childhood pastimes.
In addition to being Jodie Foster’s directorial debut, Little Man Tate is notable for its focus on classism in the area of child geniuses, concentrating on the economic and emotional hardships that often accompany children who are different from their peers in more ways than one.
10. Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) – Available On Pluto
With the help of his best friend Watson, Sherlock Holmes became known as the world’s greatest detective. A secret society and possibly Holmes’ mentor and headmaster may be involved in a mystery that the two young detectives set out to solve in London’s seedy underbelly.
It’s Steven Spielberg’s Young Sherlock Holmes, with early Industrial Light & Magic visual effects, that redefines the classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Holmes canon, with one of literature’s smartest characters—and his best friend—laying the groundwork for the dynamic duo fans have come to know and love.